Laser ablation: what does this surgical technique consist of?

Laser ablation has become a relevant treatment for brain tumors and epilepsy. In addition, it has other uses in medicine. Discover them!

Last update: 23 September, 2022

Laser ablation is a procedure that has various applications in industry. Likewise, It is used as a surgical technique to treat various health problems.. To be more exact, it is applied in the treatment of skin conditions, in dentistry and to eliminate tumors, including in the brain.

One of its advantages over other interventions is that it is non-invasive and patients have the possibility of returning to their routines in a maximum of 48 hours. Are you interested in knowing more about it? Below we detail how the process is, what its benefits are and if there are risks related to its use.

What is laser ablation and what is it used for?

In medicine, laser ablation It is an intervention that is often used in the treatment of epilepsy and brain tumors. As explained in an article published in Journal of Functional Biomaterials, the method uses a laser and a medium that transports its light within the tissue.

Specifically, the laser provides monochromatic light —emitted at a specific wavelength— which interacts with the tissue to be operated on. The medium used is usually an optical fiber that is responsible for mobilizing the laser light into the interior of the organs.

The generation of heat in the tissues and, therefore, the effect of this procedure, is largely determined by the following factors:

  • The wavelength of laser light.
  • The laser settings (power, energy and treatment time).
  • The physical properties of the fabric.
  • The emission characteristics of the optical applicator.
In laser ablation, a wavelength is emitted on the tissue to be intervened. Its intensity varies according to the condition being treated.

Main uses

Epilepsy and brain tumors are usually intervened with this treatment. Beyond this, the scientific literature mentions other types of tumors, such as the following:

Among other things, as a surgical technique it is used in the field of dentistry for various endodontic procedures (pulp incision), periodontics (abscess treatment), dental cosmetics (whitening, depigmentation), among others.

Its use as a treatment for the following is also being explored:

  • cold sores
  • thrush.
  • Bruises.
  • Varicose veins.
  • Remove tattoos.

What is the laser ablation procedure like?

The application of laser ablation as a surgical technique is a delicate procedure. First of all, it is necessary to carry out several previous studies for an accurate diagnosis. If it is a tumor formation, tests such as magnetic resonance will have to be done.

Once the decision to carry out the treatment is made, the date of the treatment is set. Regarding the previous preparation, this can vary and must be established by the medical team. When the day arrives, the patient is sedated and admitted to the operating room.

Once there —and if required— an incision must be made. This can happen, for example, when it comes to a brain tumor. If so, a hole needs to be drilled into the skull.

Then, the probe with the laser is inserted and concentrated heat is applied to the area to be treated, until the tissue is destroyed. To the same extent, the medical team monitors to ensure that nearby tissues are not affected and to avoid bleeding or other complications.

Benefits and advantages of laser ablation

There are various benefits in terms of treatment and, of course, the results of laser ablation. And although it is a somewhat complex technique, it is also has advantages compared to other procedures.

In this regard, the following aspects are highlighted:

  • It allows to treat various skin conditions, for example, pearly papules.
  • Is a less invasive technique.
  • There are no large incisions to make.
  • in dentistry, the use of anesthesia is reduced.
  • The patient experiences less pain.
  • relatively safer than traditional surgery, in terms of operative complications.
  • The probe used can reach hard-to-reach areas.
  • Less operation timealthough this varies according to the health problem.
  • The risks of infection are reduced, since the wounds are small.
Laser ablation is used in treatments against tumors, varicose veins and dental problems.

Possible risks and side effects

No increased risks, harms, or side effects associated with the use of laser ablation as a surgical technique are noted. It is said that it does not generate harmful effects on other tissues. Although it is a delicate procedure, there should be no problems.

Of course, all this is achieved as long as it is practiced in the appropriate facilities, taking the corresponding measures for patient care and that everything is carried out by highly trained health professionals.

Among the few cases of unwanted effects, possible consequences or neurological injuries —in the medium and long term— are mentioned when laser therapy treatment is applied in twins with feto-fetal transfusion syndrome (FFTS).

A possible neurological involvement is reported at 2 years of age in 14% of cases, including motor and communication problems and even cerebral palsy.

Cost and availability issues

Until now, the biggest problems related to laser ablation stem from the fact that Not all professionals handle the technique and not all health centers are equipped with the equipment..

This, in turn, affects another fundamental issue; its high cost. Therefore, beyond its benefits, the decision to apply this procedure can also be economic and not only for health.

Anyway, When in doubt about the intervention, it is necessary to see a doctor or a specialist. They will determine when it is convenient to apply it, as well as its costs. It all depends on each particular case.

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