Thermal injury secondary to laparoscopic fiber-optic cables

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Surgical Endoscopy








Instruments; Technical


Background: Laparoscopy requires a reliable light source to provide adequate visualization. However, thermal energy is produced as a by-product from the optical cable. This study attempts to quantify the degree of possible thermal damage secondary to the fiber-optic light source. Methods: Using a digital thermometer, temperature measurements were recorded at the tip of optical cables from five different light sources (Karl Storz, Inc., Tuttlingen, Germany). Temperature measurements were recorded with new and old bulbs. The tip of the cable was applied to surgical drapes and the time to charring was recorded. Subsequently, the tip of the optical cable was applied to a porcine model and tissue samples were obtained after varying amounts of time (5, 15, 30, 60, and 90 s). Sections of the damaged tissue were prepared for microscopic evaluation. Parameters for thermal injury included extent of epidermal, dermal, and subcutaneous fat damage and necrosis. The lateral extent and depth of injury were measured. Results: The maximum temperature at the tip of the optical cable varied between 119.5°C and 268.6°C. When surgical drapes were exposed to the tip of the light source, the time to char was 3-6 s. The degree and volume of injury increased with longer exposure times, and significant injury was recorded with the optical cable 3 mm from the skin. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that the temperature at the tip of the optical light cord can induce extensive damage. The by-product of light, heat, can produce immediate superficial tissue necrosis that can extend into the subcutaneous fat even when the optical tip is not in direct contact with the skin. In addition, our study shows the variation in temperature that exists between light sources and bulb status. Overall, surgeons must realize and respect the potential complications associated with optical technology. © 2008 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

This document is currently not available here.