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February 1969

Burn Injury After Carbon Dioxide Laser Irradiation

Author Affiliations

New Orleans
From the departments of surgery (Dr. Litwin), Tulane University Medical School, New Orleans; biophysics and biomedical engineering (Dr. S. Fine), Northeastern University, Boston; dermatology (Dr. Klein), Roswell Park Memorial Institute, Buffalo, NY; and ophthalmology (Dr. B. S. Fine), George Washington University Medical School, Washington, DC.

Arch Surg. 1969;98(2):219-222. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1969.01340080111024

Maiman's discovery of the laser in 19601 led to many technical advances. Field use of lasers has become widespread, and medical institutions are installing laser devices for clinical or research use. As the use of high-power lasers, particularly those that function continuously, becomes more extensive, accidental or intentional exposure will, of course, increase. The possibility of detrimental effects as a result of such exposures is a serious hazard. Recently, considerable work has been done with continuous wave (CW) gas lasers containing carbon dioxide and nitrogen. Relatively high power has been achieved with these devices; continuous power output exceeding 2,500 ws has been reported, and much higher outputs are within the present state of the art.2 These potential hazards prompted us to study the biologic effects of exposure of living animals to CO2 laser radiation.

Unique Characteristics of the CO2 Laser  The CO2 gas laser possesses