Laser tumor treatment in oral and maxillofacial surgery

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Cancer treatment is an integral part of oral and maxillofacial surgery. Oral cancer in particular is a highly prevalent neoplasm. Standard treatment for most of the tumors is radical surgery combined with stage-based neo-/adjuvant therapy. Laser surgery has become a reliable treatment option for oral cancer as well as for precancerous lesions. Widely used lasers in oral and maxillofacial tumor surgery are the CO2 laser, the Er:YAG laser, the Nd:YAG laser and the KTM laser. The use of lasers in tumor surgery has several advantages: remote application, precise cutting, hemostasis, low cicatrization, reduced postoperative pain and swelling, can be combined with endoscopic, microscopic and robotic surgery. However, laser surgery has some major drawbacks: In contrast to conventional incisions with scalpels, the surgeon gets no feedback during laser ablation. There is no depth sensation and no tissue specificity with a laser incision, increasing the risk of iatrogenic damage to nerves and major blood vessels. Future prospects may solve these problems by means of an optical feedback mechanism that provides a tissue-specific laser ablation. First attempts have been made to perform remote optical tissue differentiation. Additionally, real time optical tumor detection during laser surgery would allow for a very precise and straight forward cancer resection, enhancing organ preservation and hence the quality of life for patients with cancer in the head and neck region.




Neukam, F. W., & Stelzle, F. (2010). Laser tumor treatment in oral and maxillofacial surgery. In Physics Procedia (Vol. 5, pp. 91–100). Elsevier B.V.

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