In the past decade, novel fiber structures and material compositions have led to the introduction of new diagnostic and therapeutic tools. We review the structure, the material composition and the fabrication processes behind these novel fiber systems. Because of their structural flexibility, their compatibility with endoscopic appliances and their efficiency in laser delivery, these fiber systems have greatly extended the reach of a wide range of surgical lasers in minimally invasive procedures. Much research in novel fiber-optics delivery systems has been focused on the accommodation of higher optical powers and the extension to a broader wavelength range. Until recently, CO2 laser surgery, renowned for its precision and efficiency, was limited to open surgeries by the lack of delivery fibers. Hollow-core photonic bandgap fibers are assessed for their ability to transmit CO2 laser at surgical power level and for their applications in a range of clinical areas. Current fiber-delivery technologies for a number of laser surgery modalities and wavelengths are compared.
Keywords: Photonic crystal fibers, CO2 lasers, laser tissue ablation, medical fiber sensor, photonic band gap
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