The erbium yttrium aluminum garnet (Er:YAG) laser has been compared with the carbon dioxide (CO2) laser for surgical applications, specifically in the throat and ear. The Er:YAG lases at 2.94 µm; this wavelength is where water has its peak absorption (absorption coefficient = 12,700 cm−1). The CO2 lases at 10.6 µm (absorption coefficient = 780 cm−1). Both lasers were used with an articulated arm and a surgical microscope. The Er:YAG laser was also used with fluoride glass fibers and handheld probes. Since laser tissue interaction is a complicated process with many important variables, we have attempted to make a thorough and complete comparison of the two techniques. To this end, we measured the mass of tissue removed per joule of incident laser intensity. We measured thermal profiles for tissue adjacent to the ablation sites. Model calculations are compared to the measurements. We used histology to compare tongue and larynx lesions, both acute and after periods of recovery.

© 1990 Optical Society of America

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