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Waveguide Device Transmits Laser Light Through Direct Contact With Skin

Photonics.com
Apr 2017
COLUMBIA, Mo., April 11, 2017 — A device that transmits laser light into human tissue through direct contact, rather than open-air transmission, could help reduce safety concerns in laser-based dermatological procedures and improve targeted laser transmission through surface layers of the skin. The technique, which uses ultrasound to disrupt the layers of skin and allow dermatologists selective access to targeted areas, was developed by a research team at the University of Missouri.

Sonoillumination laser technique. University of Missouri, Columbia
Paul J.D. Whiteside demonstrates the sonoillumination waveguide device. Courtesy of Ryan Owens, MU College of Engineering.

“The system we developed uses ultrasonic pulsation in conjunction with a clinical laser to alter the properties of skin tissues during the procedure," researcher Paul J.D. Whiteside said. “We've named the technique 'sonoillumination,' and we're hopeful that the procedure will be available widely in the near future.”

The technique was tested on porcine skin tissue samples using various amplitudes and pulses.

Sonoillumination device for laser-based dermatological procedures. University of Missouri, Columbia.
A close-up of the specialized waveguide that helps deliver laser light with higher accuracy, efficacy and safety than its predecessors. Courtesy of Stephen Schmidt, CAFNR.

“Pork skin samples are very close to human skin samples, so the initial results we saw are promising for human applications,” said professor Heather K. Hunt.

Nicholas Golda, M.D., director of dermatologic surgery at University of Missouri Health Care, described the effect that the sonillumination system could have on dermatology.

“The goggles dermatologists wear during these procedures make it hard to see the target we’re working on. This new guide is fool-proof in that the laser won’t work unless it’s actually in contact with the patient’s skin.

“Our goal is to provide patients with safer, more effective treatment options that potentially lower the number of treatments needed,” said Golda. “This new technology may also provide physicians with a safer, more controllable option for treating patients.”

Paul J.D. Whiteside and Heather K. Hunt, developers of sonoillumination technique for laser-based dermatology. University of Missouri, Columbia.
Paul Whiteside and Heather Hunt developed instruments that transmit laser light into tissue through direct contact. The techniques developed by the interdisciplinary team can be used by dermatologists and will reduce safety concerns in laser dermatology by improving laser transmission through surface layers of the skin. Courtesy of Ryan Owens, MU College of Engineering.

The team has applied for a patent for the sonoillumination technique and is planning a start-up company to commercialize the technique.

The team presented the sonoillumination technique to clinicians on April 9, 2017, at the annual conference of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS). A research paper has been accepted for publication in Lasers in Surgery and Medicine.

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