June 29, 2022
Lasers have an extraordinary array of uses, including in medical procedures. The first reported use of lasers in a medical context was in 1961 by Dr. Charles J Campbell, who harnessed the power of concentrated light to treat a patient suffering from a retinal tumour. Some 60 years later, lasers have continued to revolutionise the medical store software industry. If you’re a healthcare manager in charge of medical surgical supplies and are exploring the capabilities of laser technology or looking to upgrade your laser equipment, continue reading to learn a little more about this innovative technology.
What is a laser?The term laser is actually an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. A laser is a device that releases a light at a particular, coherent wavelength, producing a narrow beam of radiation. Ordinary light, on the other hand, is typically made up of many wavelengths that spread in a variety of directions simultaneously. A number of different types of lasers exist. They are often categorised based upon their gain medium, which is the material that enables the laser to amplify light. Common gain mediums include gas, liquid, semiconductor, and solid-state. All of these types of lasers are used in a medical context.
Medical lasers — a short historyThe first laser was built in 1960 by Theodore H Maiman, an engineer and physicist. His work was inspired by a number of renowned physicists, including Einstein, who in 1917 wrote a paper proposing the concept of ‘stimulated emission.’ This term refers to the chain reaction that occurs when the radiation of one atom triggers emission of radiation in the next, producing coherent light of a single wavelength. Stimulated emission is a founding principle of laser technology. It was only around a year later that the technology was adapted for a medical context. The earliest medical applications of lasers were in the specialties of ophthalmology and dermatology. Specialists working in these two fields still make frequent use of laser technology today, alongside urologists, cardiologists, dentistry, and oncologists.
Typical proceduresThese days, it’s not uncommon for a patient to be treated using a laser. Some of the most widely practised procedures that capitalise on this technology include:
- Surgery: lasers can be used to remove tumours, break down kidney stones, and destroy cataracts in a non-invasive manner.
- Cosmetic procedures: the power of a laser can be harnessed to remove a number of different cosmetic concerns, including tattoos, spider veins, sunspots, scars, and birthmarks.
- Diagnostics: lasers have recently been applied as a diagnostic tool to detect tumours and other bodies of concern.