The Nd: YAG laser in neurosurgery: Part 1. Laboratory investigations: Dose-related biological response of neural tissue

R. E. Wharen, R. E. Anderson, B. Scheithauer, T. M. Sundt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Scopus citations


The biological response of normal cat brain to Nd:YAG laser light was studied both in vitro and in vivo to evaluate the potential safety of this laser for coagulation in brain tissue. Transmission studies revealed a blood:brain absorption ratio of 100:1 indicating the selective absorption of Nd:YAG light by hemoglobin and enabling Nd:YAG light to selectively heat blood vessels compared to brain tissue. In vivo temperature recordings and pathological evaluation demonstrated a remarkable ability of the brain to dissipate the thermal energy produced by Nd:YAG light with only a small amount of structural damage. Powers of 10 W applied for 8 seconds using a 1.2-mm focused probe resulted in a penetration depth in normal brain of only 2 mm. Thermal recordings also revealed that blood is heated to 90% of its maximum temperature within 3 seconds, while the brain temperature increases linearly as the duration of the laser pulse is increased. In addition, the localized heating of brain tissue was cooled rapidly within seconds following cessation of the laser pulse. These findings indicate that by using short, intermittent pulses of light focused upon blood vessels, damage to the surroundings tissue can be minimized, and the Nd:YAG laser can be used safely as an adjunctive measure for hemostasis in many neurosurgical procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)531-539
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1984


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)

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