The frequency doubled, double pulse Nd:YAG (FREDDY) laser (World of Medicine, Berlin, Germany) functions through the generation of a plasma bubble. Upon bubble collapse a mechanical shock wave is generated, causing stone fragmentation. This mechanism of action is in contrast to the holmium laser, which cause stone destruction by vaporization. Observed clinical stone retropulsion and fragmentation with the FREDDY and holmium lasers has prompted a series of in vitro experiments designed to compare laser induced retropulsion and fragmentation with those of a holmium laser and pneumatic lithotrite.
For retropulsion a hands-off underwater laboratory setup, including a horizontally oriented silicone tube 1.3 cm in diameter and a holder to keep the stone phantom in contact with the quartz laser fiber or pneumatic probe, was used. Previously weighed, cylindrical Bego stone phantoms (Bego USA, Smithfield, Rhode Island) were placed in the apparatus. Stone fragmentation was performed with the FREDDY or holmium laser, or the pneumatic lithotripter. The FREDDY and holmium lasers were tested at similar pulse energy and frequency settings. As a standard for comparison, a pneumatic lithotrite was tested with a semirigid probe and single pulse settings of 100, 200 and 300 kPa. Stone phantoms underwent 30 shocks per setting. Mean net retropulsion, defined as the final resting point of the stone, as determined by direct measurement, was recorded for each setting. For fragmentation plaster of Paris stone phantoms of known weights were used to compare the fragmentation ability of each laser. Stones phantoms were placed in a hands-off underwater setup, consisting of an inverted silicon syringe and holder immersed in tap water. The laser fiber (365 microm for the holmium and 280 microm for the FREDDY) was placed through the tip of the syringe in contact with the stone phantom. A total of 24 stones were divided into 4 groups of 6 per group. Two groups were fragmented with the FREDDY laser at 300 and 400 J total energy. The other 2 groups were fragmented using the holmium laser at 300 and 480 J total energy. Fragmentation efficiency was determined as percent weight loss.
For retropulsion at 160 mJ the FREDDY laser caused stone retropulsion to a mean distance of 7.6, 8.1 and 6.8 cm at settings of 5, 10 and 15 Hz, respectively. At 0.8 J the holmium laser retropulsed the stone to a mean distance of 3.3 and 4.9 cm at settings of 5 and 10 Hz, respectively. The pneumatic device caused stone retropulsion a mean distance of 8.5, 9.9 and 13.8 cm at pressure settings of 100, 200 and 300 kPa, respectively. The FREDDY laser generally caused less retropulsion than the pneumatic device, although this difference was only significant at the highest pneumatic lithoclast setting (p <0.05). At clinically relevant settings the FREDDY laser caused significantly more retropulsion than the holmium laser (p <0.05). For fragmentation at total energy settings of 300 and 400 J the FREDDY laser resulted in 44.9% and 86.8% weight loss, respectively (p <0.05). At settings of 300 and 480 J the holmium:YAG laser resulted in 3.3% and 7.1% weight loss, respectively (p <0.05).
At lower frequency settings stone retropulsion was significantly greater with the FREDDY laser compared with the holmium laser. However, retropulsion was significantly less than that caused by the pneumatic lithotripter at all settings. Therefore, we recommend the use of an occlusive device, such as the Stone Cone (Boston Scientific, Natick, Massachusetts) proximal to the calculus during intracorporeal ureteral lithotripsy and in the ureteropelvic junction during percutaneous laser nephrostolithotomy. In vitro stone fragmentation was significantly greater with the FREDDY laser than with the holmium:YAG laser, suggesting that the FREDDY may offer a low cost alternative to the holmium:YAG laser lithotrite in select patients.