Acute and chronic response of articular cartilage to holmium:YAG laser irradiation

K. B. Trauner, N. S. Nishioka, T. Flotte, D. Patel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


A Ho:YAG (holmium-yttrium-aluminum-garnet) laser system operating at a wavelength of 2.1 microns has been introduced recently for use in arthroscopic surgery. The acceptability of this new tool will be determined not only by its ability to resect tissue, but also by its long-term effects on articular surfaces. Two studies were performed to evaluate the acute and chronic effects of the laser on cartilaginous tissue. The acute in vitro effects of 2.1-micron laser irradiation were evaluated, including measurement of ablation efficiency, ablation threshold, and thermal damage in meniscal and articular cartilage. To document the chronic effects on articular cartilage in vivo, a 10-week healing study was performed. Eight sheep weighing 30 to 40 kg underwent bilateral arthrotomy procedures. Multiple full-thickness and partial-thickness defects were created. Animals were euthanized at 0, 2, 4, and 10 weeks. The results of the healing study showed (1) no healing of full- or partial-thickness defects in hyaline cartilage at 10 weeks; (2) fibrocartilaginous granulation tissue tilling full-thickness defects at 2 and 4 weeks that was no longer evident at 10 weeks; (3) chondrocyte necrosis extending to >900 microns distal to ablation craters at 4 weeks, with no evidence of repair at later dates; (4) chondrocyte hyperplasia at the borders of the damage zone at 2 weeks but not at euthanization occurring at later periods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-57
Number of pages6
JournalClinical orthopaedics and related research
StatePublished - 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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