Monitoring soft tissue coagulation by optical spectroscopy
Laser tissue welding (LTW) or laser tissue soldering (LTS) is investigated since many years for treatment of incisions, wound closure and anastomosis of vessels [1, 2]. Depending on the process, a certain temperature in the range between 65 °C to 85 °C must be reached and held for a few seconds. Care has to be taken not to overheat the tissue, otherwise necrosis or tissue carbonization may occur and will impair wound healing. Usually the temperature is monitored during the process to control the laser power . This requires either bulky equipment or expensive and fragile infrared fibers to feed the temperature signal to an infrared detector. Alternatively, changes in tissue morphology can be directly observed by analysis of spectral reflectance. We investigate spectral changes in the range between 400 nm to 900 nm wavelength. Characteristic spectral changes occur when the temperature of tissue samples increase above 70 °C which is a typical setpoint value for temperature control of coagulation. We conclude that simple spectroscopy in the visible range can provide valuable information during LTS and LTW and probably replace the delicate measurement of temperature. A major advantage is that optical measurements can be performed using standard optical fibers and can be easily integrated into a surgical tool.