In modern medicine, minimal invasive surgeries are increasingly important. The dominant reason of course being the shorter recovery time of patients compared to standard surgical procedures. Smaller wounds also mean lower risk of complications. Many surgical systems rely on optical fibers. In general, these fibers perform one of these functions:
Focused laser light interacts with matter depending on the wavelength used (the type of laser), the intensity of the light and the material it interacts with, e.g. the tissue. Therefore, each medical application requires its own kind of laser light. The selection depends on what needs to be achieved. A few examples include laser coagulation, skin treatment, dentistry, ophthalmology and lithotripsy.
- Bringing laser light to the point of interest:
For a minimal invasive surgeries, it is important to bring the light from the laser to the point of interest. Optical fibers can do this task. They need to have specific properties that depend on the wavelength the laser operates at and its power. These fibers are drawn from a preform that has the desired properties.
- Allow to track a position of a fiber or catheter inside the body:
With fibers with multiple cores and special features, so-called Bragg gratings, it is possible to follow the bending of the fiber in three dimensions. The signal from the fiber allows the software to calculate in what way the fiber moved, without the need to track it through other means. This allows an even thinner catheter, reducing the size of the wound further.