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Title:
LASER DEVICE AND METHOD FOR ABLATING BIOLOGICAL TISSUE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2009/052866
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A laser device (10) for ablating a biological tissue (1), comprising: a) a laser source (7) that is configured to emit a laser beam (4); b) optics (8a,8b,8x) configured to modify the laser beam (4) such as to direct the laser beam (4) on the biological tissue (1); d) a controller (11) that is configured to control the laser source (7) to emit the laser beam (4) to create an ablation in biological tissue (1), whereby e) a sensor (19) being configured to receive back scattered light from the biological tissue (1); f) a tissue controller (18) that is operationally coupled to the sensor (19) to receive a sensor signal (Ri) of the sensor (19); and g) the tissue controller (18) being configured to compare a series of at least two consecutive sensor signals (R1,R2,R3,...) and being configured to generate a tissue control signal (TCS) when the value of the series of consecutive sensor signals (R1,R2,R3,....) decreases in a predetermined amount.

Inventors:
BRAGAGNA THOMAS (AT)
HEINRICH ARNE (CH)
Application Number:
PCT/EP2007/061503
Publication Date:
April 30, 2009
Filing Date:
October 25, 2007
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
PANTEC BIOSOLUTIONS AG (LI)
BRAGAGNA THOMAS (AT)
HEINRICH ARNE (CH)
International Classes:
A61B18/20; A61B17/00; A61B18/00
Domestic Patent References:
WO2000053261A12000-09-14
WO2006111201A12006-10-26
Foreign References:
US5628744A1997-05-13
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GRAF, Werner (Postfach 518Herrenacker 15, Schaffhausen, CH)
Download PDF:
Claims:

CLAIMS

1. A laser device (10) for ablating a biological tissue (1), comprising: a) a laser source (7) that is configured to emit a laser beam (4); b) optics (8a,8b,8x) configured to modify the laser beam (4) such as to direct the laser beam (4) on the biological tissue (1); d) a controller (1 1) that is configured to control the laser source (7) to emit the laser beam (4) to create an ablation in biological tissue (1), characterized in e) a sensor (19) being configured to receive back scattered light from the biological tissue (1); f) a tissue controller ( 18) that is operationally coupled to the sensor (19) to receive a sensor signal (Ri) of the sensor (19); and g) the tissue controller ( 18) being configured to compare a series of at least two consecutive sensor signals (R1 ,R2,R3, ...) and being configured to generate a tissue control signal (TCS) when the value of the series of consecutive sensor signals (R1 ,R2,R3, ....) decreases in a predetermined amount.

2. The laser device of claim 1 , further comprising a deflector (8f) configured to direct the laser beam (4) in various directions; the poration controller (1 1) being configured to control the deflector

(8f) to create a poration comprising a plurality of individual pores (2); and further configured to direct the pulses to impact a single one of the plurality of pores (2) at least twice; and the tissue controller ( 18) being configured to compare the series of at least two consecutive sensor signals (R1 ,R2,R3, ...) of the same single pore of the plurality of pores (2).

3. The laser device of one of claims 1 or 2, wherein the tissue controller (18) is configured to modify at least one of intensity and diameter of

the laser beam (4) or is configured to stop emitting the laser beam (4) onto the same location of the biological tissue (1), based on the tissue control signal (TCS).

4. The laser device of claim 1 , further comprising a deflector (8f) configured to direct the laser beam (4) in various directions; the poration controller (1 1) being configured to control the deflector (8f) to move the laser beam (4) along the biological tissue (1), and the tissue controller ( 18) being configured to modify at least one of intensity, diameter, moving direction and moving speed of the laser beam (4), based on the tissue control signal (TCS).

5. The laser device of one of the preceding claims, wherein at least one sensor (19) is at least partially disposed within the laser device (10).

6. The laser device of one of the preceding claims, comprising a removable tip (8n), wherein at least one sensor (19) is arranged in the removable tip (8n).

7. The laser device of one of the preceding claims, wherein the sensor (19) is configured to measure light intensity only.

8. The laser device of one of the preceding claims, wherein the wavelength of the laser beam (4) is in the range of between 1 ,5 μm and

12μm, more preferably in the range of between 2,5 μm and 3,5 μm, and most preferably in the range of between 2,9 μm and 3 μm.

9. The laser device of one of the preceding claims, wherein the tissue controller (18) is configures to control the sensor (19) such as to measure the back scattered light of the laser beam (4).

10. The laser device of one of the preceding claims, further comprising at least one source of illumination (9a), wherein the tissue controller (18) is configures to control at least one of the source of illumination (9a) and the sensor (19) such as to measure the back scattered light from the source of illumination (9a).

1 1. The laser device of claim 10, wherein the source of illumination (9a) comprising optics such as to create an illumination beam (9d), wherein the tissue controller (18) is adapted to direct the illumination beam (9d) to areas where the biological tissue has been ablated, in particular to the area of the last impact of the laser beam (4) .

12. The laser device of claim 1 1 , wherein the deflector (8f) is configured to direct the illumination beam (9d) in various directions, and wherein the tissue controller (18) is configured to direct the illumination beam (9d) onto the biological tissue (1).

13. The laser device of one of claims 10 to 12, wherein the wavelength of the source of illumination (9a) is in the range of between 1 ,5 μm and 12μm, more preferably in the range of between 2,5 μm and 3,5 μm, and most preferably in the range of between 2,9 μm and 3 μm).

14. The laser device of one of claims 10 to 13, wherein the source of illumination (9a) is a laser source.

15. The laser device of one of claims 10 to 14, wherein the tissue controller ( 18) being configured to compare a series of at least two consecutive signals (S1 ,S2,S3, ...) of the source of illumination (9a) and being configured to generate a second tissue control signal (TCS2) when the value of the series of consecutive sensor signals (S1 ,S2,S3, ....) decreases in a predetermined amount.

16. The laser device of one of the preceding claims, wherein at least one of the optics (8a,8b,8x) and the deflector (8f) are configured such that at least two of the laser source (7), sensor (19) and source of illumination (9d) use at least partially the same optical path.

17. A method for ablating a biological tissue (1), comprising the steps of: a) emitting a laser beam (4); b) directing the laser beam (4) on a biological tissue (1);

d) controlling the laser beam (4) such as to create an ablation of the biological tissue (1), e) measuring back scattered light received from the biological tissue

(i); f) comparing a series of at least two consecutive back scattered lights received from the biological tissue (1) and generating a tissue control signal (TCS) when the value of the series of consecutive sensor signals (R1 ,R2,R3, ....) decreases in a predetermined amount.

18. The method according to claim 17, wherein light intensity only is measured.

19. The method according to one of claims 17 and 18, wherein the the laser beam (4) is at least one of stopped and directed onto another area when a tissue control signal (TCS) is generated.

Description:

LASER DEVICE AND METHOD FOR ABLATING BIOLOGICAL TISSUE

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to a laser device and a method for ablating biological tissue.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Document WO2006/ 1 1 1526 of the same applicant discloses a laser porator for creating micropores in a biological tissue such as the skin. This laser porator comprises a feedback mechanism to analyze a characteristic of a pore. One disadvantage of this laser porator is that the feedback mechanism is not reliable enough to easily and quickly distinguish different properties of tissues. Document WO2006/ 1 1 1526 is herewith incorporated by reference in its entirety. .

It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide devices and methods to improve the recognition of tissue properties. It is a further object of the present invention to provide an inexpensive and reliable device and method for tissue ablation.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

This problem is solved with a laser device comprising the features of claim 1. Dependent claims 2 to 16 disclose optional features. The problem is further solved with a method for recognising tissue properties comprising the features of claim 17, with dependent claims 18 to 19 disclosing optional features.

The problem is in particular solved with a laser device for ablating a biological tissue, comprising: a) a laser source that is configured to emit a laser beam; b) optics configured to modify the laser beam such as to direct the laser beam on the biological tissue; d) a controller that is configured to control the laser source to emit the laser beam to create an ablation in biological tissue, wherein e) a sensor is configured to receive back scattered light from the biological tissue; f) a tissue controller is operationally coupled to the sensor to receive a sensor signal of the sensor; and g) wherein the tissue controller being configured to compare a series of at least two consecutive sensor signals and being configured to generate a tissue control signal when the value of the series of consecutive sensor signals decreases in a predetermined amount..

Biological tissues very often comprise a plurality of layers having different properties. The human skin for example comprises layers of different properties, such as the stratum corneum, which is the top layer, followed by the epidermis and the dermis. Each of these layers has different properties. The stratum corneum for example doesn't allow passing substances of high molecular weight. It is therefore of utmost importance, when for example administering a high molecular drug through the skin into the human body, to make sure to completely remove the stratum corneum before applying the drug onto the skin, to allow entering the drug into the human body. It is known that the epidermis and/ or the dermis may for example comprise blood vessels and nerve ends. To prevent pain or bleeding, it is therefore desirable not to enter too deep into these layers when creating pores in the skin using a laser beam. On the other hand it turned out that the thickness of the stratum corneum varies significantly among individuals. Further it turned out that the moisture of the stratum corneum or other tissue layers that are exposed to the air varie significantly from summer to winter due to

environment humidity changes. It is therefore a need to provide a reliable and preferably also inexpensive device and method to detect skin layers, or more generally, to detect varying tissue properties. In a preferred embodiment the device and method is used to completely ablate the stratum corneum, but to leave the epidermis or dermis as much as possible.

The device and method according to the invention allows recognising tissue properties when a biological tissue such as the skin is ablated using a laser beam. The level of laser energy is within a range that ablates the biological tissue.

The device according to the invention comprises a sensor arranged to receive back scattered light from the biological tissue, comprises a tissue controller that is coupled to the sensor to receive a sensor signal of the sensor, and comprises a tissue controller being configured to compare a series of at least two consecutive sensor signals and being configures to generate a tissue control signal when the value of the series of consecutive sensor signals decreases. In the most preferred embodiment the sensor receives the back scattered light of the laser beam ablating the skin. In the most preferred embodiment the sensor measures the intensity of the back scattered light. In the most preferred embodiment a plurality of repeated laser pulses are necessary to be directed into the same pore to completely ablate the stratum corneum, and if necessary the epidermis. The back scattered light of the laser beam is influenced by the respective tissue that was ablated by the laser beam, which means that the back scattered light contains information about tissue properties of the ablated tissue. By using a continuous laser system the detector could measure back scattered light continuously, and the continuous laser system could deflect the laser beam to a next spot of tissue when the intensity of back scattered light decreases, until the desired skin layer is removed.

It has been found out that the back scattered light, in particular the intensity of the back scattered light depends on properties of the biological tissue. The human skin for example comprises layers of different water

content, the stratum corneum having a water content of about 15 - 20 %, the epidermis having a water content of about 60 - 70 %, and the dermis having a water content of about 70 - 80%. It has been found out that water has the highest absorption coefficient at a wave length of about 3 μm, and an Er:YAG laser emits a laser beam with a wave length of about 2,95 μm.

This preferred laser type emits a laser beam of which the back scattered light is highly sensitive to the water content of the ablated biological tissue. In a preferred embodiment the back scattered light of each laser pulse emitted into the same pore is measured by the sensor and at least two consecutive sensor signals are stored in a memory. As long as the stratum corneum is ablated by the laser beam, the sensor received a back scattered light of relative high intensity, due to the relative low water content of the stratum corneum. As soon as the laser beam hits the epidermis, the intensity of the back scattered light decreases because the epidermis absorbs the laser beam more due to the relative high water content. The measurement of the reflected light therefore allows determining whether the laser pulse ablates biological tissue in the stratum corneum or the epidermis, and allows to clearly detect the transition from the stratum corneum to the epidermis in that a decrease in the intensity of the back scattered laser light occurs, which can be detected and measured by a sensor. In a preferred embodiment the ablation of the respective pore with a laser beam is stopped as soon as the epidermis is reached, for example to guarantee a pore with completely removed stratum corneum and small impact onto the epidermis.

By way of example the device and method according to the invention has above been described in conjunction with porating the skin. But it is obvious that the device and method according to the invention may also be used to porate other biological tissue, thereby detecting properties of the biological tissue. The device and method may further be used in combination with pulsed laser beams as well as with continuous wave lasers.

By way of example the device and method according to the invention has above been described in conjunction with porating the skin. But it is obvious that the device and method according to the invention may also be used to

alter or ablate other biological tissue, thereby detecting properties of the biological tissue. The device and method may further be used in combination with pulsed laser beams as well as with continuous wave lasers.

One advantage of the device and method according to the invention is, that it is very inexpensive, very reliable, very fast, and allows to reliably detect changes in properties of the biological tissue, such as the water content of the tissue.

The device and method according to the invention allows to use a laser having a wavelength in the range between 1,5 μm and 12μm, more preferably in the range of between 2,5 μm and 3,5 μm, and most preferably in the range of between 2,9 μm and 3 μm.

In a further embodiment the device and method comprise a source of illumination, which preferably is directed onto the area where tissue is ablated, and which preferably illuminates this area during and/ or between two consecutive pulses, to receive back scattered and/ or reflected light from the tissue containing information about tissue properties. In a preferred embodiment the source of illumination is a laser emitting light. Most preferably the laser emits a light in the wavelength range of 200 nm to 700 nm, whereby the wavelength is preferably selected to clearly distinguish smaller changes in tissue properties, such as the change from the epidermis to the dermis where e.g. the structure of the tissue changes and therefore it's optical characteristics. A proper selection of the wavelength allows detecting the transition from the epidermis to the dermis.

As used herein, "poration" means the formation of a small hole or pore or a plurality of holes or pores to a desired depth in or through the biological membrane or tissue, such as the skin, the mucous membrane or an organ of a human being or a mammal, or the outer layer of an organism or a plant, to lessen the barrier properties of this biological membrane to the passage of permeants or drugs into the body. The poration referred to herein is preferably no smaller than 1 micron across and at least 1 micron in depth.

As used herein "ablation" means the controlled removal of material using a laser beam. As used herein, "biological tissue" means any component of an organism including but not limited to, skin, cells, biological membranes, bone, collagen, nails, blood vessels, fluids and the like comprising some portion of the organism.

As used herein "sensor" means any kind of radiation sensing or detecting devices including but not limited to photo diodes, photo resistors, photo transistors, thermopiles (e.g. lead sulfide, lead selenide), bolometric detectors, pyroelectric detectors (e.g. tourmaline, lithium-tantalate , triglycine-sulphate, polyvinyldentifluoride, polymers, gallium nitride, caesium nitrate, polyvinyl fluorides, derivatives of phenylpyrazine, cobalt phthalocyanine), ferroelectric detectors, piezoelectric detectors, photo multiplier tubes, CCD detectors and arrays.

As used herein "back scattered light" means reflected or deflected light that was sent to a tissue and is received through a sensor due to indirect or direct reflections caused on or in the tissue. This also includes receiving the light that is generated when using a first wavelength to stimulate an emission of an at least second wavelength on or in the tissue.

The term "individual pore" as used in the context of the present application refers to a pore, in general a pathway extending from the biological membrane. The biological membrane for example being the skin, the individual pore then extending from the surface of the skin through all or significant part of the stratum corneum. In the most preferred embodiment the pathway of the individual pore extending through all the stratum corneum and part of the epidermis but not extending into the dermis, so that no bleeding occurs. In the most preferred embodiment the individual pore having a depth between 10 μm (for newborns 5 μm) and 150 μm.

After the perforation a substance such as a drug is applied onto the skin, preferably in form of a transdermal patch.

In a preferred embodiment, at least two pulses of the laser beam are directed to the same pore. The deflector is built or controlled such that a second, third or even more laser beams are directed into the same pore. This multiple targeting of the same pore also allows using a laser beam of relative low energy. This makes sense because the maximum optical penetration depth is for example about 2 to 4 microns in human skin at wavelengths of about 3 microns. It is therefore very inefficient to create very deep pores of 70 to 200 microns with one single laser pulse. Such deep pores of 70 to 200 microns are needed for higher permeation rates of e.g. lipophilic and large hydrophilic permeants through the epidermis to the blood vessels in the dermis. The laser beam may be directed up to ten times or even up to fifty times into the same pore, whereby the beam is preferably directed consecutively into the same pore, to thereby "drilling" microholes into the biological membrane. The beam may also be redirected into a single one of a plurality of pores, after impacting at least one of the plurality of other pores.

In a preferred embodiment, the laser porator comprises a feedback loop based on back scattered light. In the most preferred embodiment, the feedback loop is continuously and operatively coupled to a poration controller that actuates the laser source. The poration controller compares the measured characteristic of an individual pore with a predetermined value and stops emitting further laser pulses on the individual pore if the characteristic of the individual pore corresponds to the preset value. Most preferred the depth of the individual pore is monitored. This allows creation of an individual pore similar to drilling a hole in a material, in that the depth of the hole e.g. the pore is repeatedly measured. The accuracy of the final depth of the individual pore can, for example, be improved if reduced laser energy is applied per pulse, which causes a smaller amount of biological tissue being ablated per pulse.

In one embodiment the width of the laser beam and/ or the energy density of the laser beam can be modulated, which allows to modulate the width of the individual pore as well as the ablated depth per pulse.

The laser micro-porator preferably uses a laser source having a wavelength between 0,05 microns (micrometers) and 15 microns, preferably between 2 and 10 microns, in particular between 2,8 microns and 3, 1 microns or 3, 15 microns. Most preferred a wavelength of about 2.95 microns is used because the absorption maximum of water is in the mid infrared range, as disclosed in figure 14.

The laser micro-porator preferably uses an optical apparatus that generates a laser beam having a width between 0,05 and 0,5 mm or 1 mm. In a preferred embodiment the laser beam has a circular, elliptic or rectangular shape, the width of the circular laser beam being the diameter, the width of the rectangular laser beam being one of the lengths of the rectangle or ellipse.

The laser micro-porator preferably uses a laser source having a pulse temporal width which is between 1 ns and 1000 μs, in particular between 1 ns and 1 μs and most preferred between 10 ns and 50 ns or 50 ns and 150 ns.

The laser micro-porator also preferably uses a laser source having an energy density of the laser beam between 1 mJ/cm 2 and 100000 J/cm 2 , in particular between 10 mJ/cm 2 and 5 J/cm 2 .

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention can be better understood and its advantages appreciated by those skilled in the art by referencing to the accompanying drawings. Although the drawings illustrate certain details of certain embodiments, the invention disclosed herein is not limited to only the embodiments so illustrated.

Fig. 1 shows a first ablator for ablating biological tissue; Fig. 2 shows a schematic cross-section of one pore of a laser porated skin;

Fig. 3 shows a graph of the intensity of back scattered light versus time;

Fig. 4 shows a top view of a cut in the skin created with the ablator;

Fig. 5 shows a longitudinal section of the cut in the skin according to figure 4;

Fig. 6 shows a detail of a second ablator for ablating biological tissue;

Fig. 7 shows a schematic cross-section of another pore of a laser porated skin;;

Fig. 8 shows a schematic cross-section of another pore of a laser porated skin;

Fig. 9 shows a schematic cross-section of another pore of a laser porated fingernail and finger;

Fig. 10 shows a third ablator for ablating biological tissue in detail;

Fig. 1 1 , 12show a longitudinal section of tips pressed onto the skin; Fig. 13 shows a tip pressed onto the finger nail;

Fig. 14 shows a graph of the absorption coefficient of water versus wavelength; Fig. 15 shows the path of a series of laser pulses applied onto the biological tissue to ablate an area; Fig. 16 shows a longitudinal section of the skin containing a defect tissue; Fig. 17 the section according to figure 16 after ablating the defect tissue.

DETAILED DESCPRITION

Figure 1 shows an ablator 10, which is a laser device 10 for ablating a biological tissue 1 , comprising a laser source 7 that is configured to emit a laser beam 4, comprising optics 8a configured to modify the laser beam 4 such that the laser beam 4 has a diameter of preferably less than 1 mm, comprising a controller 1 1 that is configured to control the laser source 7 to emit the laser beam 4 to create an ablation 2 in the biological tissue 1 , wherein a sensor 19 is configured to receive back scattered light BSL from the biological tissue 1. The ablator or laser device 10 disclosed in figure 1 comprises a hand piece 10a wherein the laser source 7 and the sensor 19 is

arranged, and further comprises electronics 10b, in particular the controller 1 1 , which is connected with a tissue controller 18 and an input-output device 15 or interfaces 15. The hand piece 10a and the electronics 10b communicate through connecting wires 1 1a, 18b. In a further preferred embodiment, parts 10a and 10b are arranged together in a common housing 10c.

In the most preferred embodiment, the ablator 10, respectively the laser source 7 emits a series of laser pulses. Figure 2 shows a cross-sectional view of one pore 2 created in the skin 1 by using the ablator 10 disclosed in figure 1. The skin 1 comprises various tissue layers, of which the stratum corneum Ia, the epidermis Ib and the dermis Ic are shown. The ablator emits a consecutive series of laser pulses. The laser beam 4 is directed onto the surface Ie of the skin 1 , and hits the skin surface Ie in the area B. The first shot Sl of the laser pulse ablates a tissue volume VSl , thereby after the first shot S 1 of the laser pulse leaving a pore 2 with a bottom BS 1. Further shots S2, S2, S3, S4, S5 of laser pulses follow, which ablate tissue volumes VS2, VS3, VS4, VS5 thereby creating a pore 2 with increasing depth, whereby the bottom BS2, BS3, BS4, BS5 of he pore 2 after each shut is indicated.

Each shot S1 ,S2,S3,S4,S5 of the laser beam 4 causes some back scattered emission originating from within the pore 2, such as part of the laser beam 4 being scattered back from the ablated tissue volume VS, the bottom BS of the pore 2, or the tissue below the bottom BS of the pore 2. The term "back scattered light " used herein means back scattered emission from a laser beam 4 or another emitting device, scattered back from the tissue, whereby the term light is not restricted to visible light but may also comprise electromagnetic emission of other wave length. The back scattered light is detected by sensor 19 and the received sensor signal Si is stored in the tissue controller 18.

The human skin 1 comprises different tissue layers, each tissue layer having a different water content, the stratum corneum 1 a having a water content of about 15 - 20 %, the epidermis Ib having a water content of about 60 - 70

%, and the dermis Ic having a water content of about 70 - 80%. It has been found out that water has the highest absorption coefficient at a wave length of about 3 μm, and an Er:YAG laser emits a laser beam with a wave length of about 2,95 μm. An Er:YAG laser emitting a laser beam of about 2,95 μm is therefore very suitable to detect different tissue layers. This preferred laser emits a laser beam 4 of which the back scattered light is highly sensitive to the water content of the ablated biological tissue. In a preferred embodiment the back scattered light of each laser pulse Sl , S2, ... emitted into the same pore 2 is measured by the sensor 19 and at least two consecutive sensor signals BSLl , BSL2, .... are stored in a memory of the tissue controller 18.

Figure 3 shows a graph of the intensity of back scattered light versus time of the pore 2 created according to figure 2. As long as the stratum corneum Ia is ablated by the laser beam 4, the sensor 19 receives a back scattered light of relative high intensity, due to the relative low water content of the stratum corneum. Most preferred at least the first laser pulse Sl causes a dehydration of the tissue 1 surrounding the pore 2 and/ or the tissue 1 below the respective bottom BSl , BS2, BS3, BS4, which reduces the water content of the tissue 1 , and which therefore increases the intensity of back scattered light. This effect is shown in Figure 3, where the intensity of back scattered light BSLl , BSL2 increases from shot 1 to shot 2, because the first shot 1 reduced the water content in the stratum corneum Ia, thereby effecting a lower absorption of the laser beam 4 on the bottom BS2, BS3, BS4 and therefore causing a higher intensity of back scattered light BSL2, BSL3, BSL4.

As soon as the laser beam 4 hits the epidermis Ib, the intensity of the back scattered light decreases because the epidermis Ib absorbs the laser beam 4 more due to the relative high water content. The intensity of the back scattered light BSL5 therefore decreases in a predetermined amount. The tissue controller is configured to compare a series of at least two consecutive sensor signals BSL4, BSL5, and is configured to generate a tissue control signal TCS when the value of the series of consecutive sensor signals BSL4, BSL5 decreases in a predetermined amount. Therefore, the measurement of

the back scattered light allows determining whether the laser pulse ablates biological tissue in the stratum corneum or the epidermis, and allows to clearly detect the transition from the stratum corneum to the epidermis in that a decrease in the intensity of the back scattered laser light is measured. As indicated in figure 2, in a preferred embodiment the ablation of the respective pore 2 with a laser beam 4 is stopped as soon as the epidermis Ib is reached, which means as soon as the tissue control signal TCS is generated, for example to guarantee a pore 2 with completely removed stratum corneum Ia and little impact onto the epidermis Ib.

The procedure described above has the advantage that the back scattered light originating from within the pore is measured, which therefore allows, even if the pore has a very small diameter of less than 1 mm, to clearly detect the tissue properties within the respective pore 2. In a preferred embodiment the back scattered light of the laser beam 4 is sufficient to detect tissue properties. Because no other light source is needed, the measurement is the back scattered light is very fast and very reliable, thus allowing a high pulse repetition frequency of for example 200 to 1000 Hz.

The ablator 10 disclosed in figure 1 may for example be used to cut a tissue up to a depth with predetermined tissue properties. Figure 4 shows a top view of the skin 1 , along which the ablator 10 according to figure 1 is moved with a scanner or manually in direction 2d. Assuming the ablator 10 being fixed on a scanner moveable in direction 2d, the ablator 10 emits a first shot Sl , creating a pore 2 of little depth. The ablator 10 emits a series of shots into the pore 2, thereby measuring the back scattered light after preferably each shot Si. Lets assume that after twenty shots in total, the bottom of the pore 2 reaches the epidermis bl , which causes the tissue controller 18 to emit the tissue control signal TCS, and the consecutive series of shots is stopped, until the scanner has moved the ablator 10 to such a position, that the next shot 21 will hit the skin 1 just beside the previously created pore 2. After a total shot number of 22, a further tissue control signal TCS is issued, and the scanner moves the ablator 10 to such a position, that the next shot number 33 will hit the skin 1 just beside the previously created pore 2. This

procedure is continued until the whole incision 2b is created. Figure 5 shows a longitudinal section of the incision 2b created in the skin 1 according to figure 4. As indicated the thickness of the stratum corneum Ia may vary. There is a border If between the stratum corneum Ia and the epidermis Ib. The method described above allows, for example to create an incision 2b having a depth 2c of little more than the thickness of the stratum corneum, so that the stratum corneum is completely removed with the incision 2b, but most of the epidermis Ib is left.

Figure 6 shows a schematic detail of a second ablator 10 for ablating biological tissue. This ablator 10 comprises all embodiments disclosed in Figure 1, in particular the laser 7 and the sensor 19. In addition to the first ablator 10, the second ablator 10 according to figure 6 comprises also a beam splitter 9e and a sensor 9b, whereby the sensor 9b and the beam splitter 9e are configured to receive light of the laser beam 4, back scattered of pore 2. This arrangement allows to even more reliably detect back scattered light of pore 2.

In a further embodiment, an additional light source 9a may be used, whereby the light source 9a is arranged so that sensor 9b or sensor 19 receives light of light source 9a back scattered by the pore 2. Most preferably the light source 9a emits light, which is back scattered by pore 2, and emitted as beam 9d onto the sensor 9b. Preferably the wave length of light source 9a differs from the wave length of laser beam 4. The light source 9a, most preferably a laser source, may for example emit green light in the range of for example 530 +/- 20 nm; or blue light in the range of for example 400 +/- 30 nm, or red light in the range of for example 630 +/- 30 nm. The wave length of the light source 9a is for example of importance to detect tissue of different properties. Depending on spectral tissue properties usually a specific wave length, properly selected, allows detecting different tissues with an arrangement as disclosed in figure 6.

For example figure 7 shows a cross section of a pore 2 in a laser porated skin 1. After 9 shots the bottom line BS9, which means the dermis Ic is reached.

The epidermis Ib has a water content of about 60 - 70%, whereas the dermis 1 c has a water content of about 70 - 80% . To clearly recognise the dermis layer Ic using the embodiment disclosed in figure 6, the light source 9a used is a blue laser. The back scattered light is received by sensor 9b and the measured sensor signal transmitted to the tissue controller 18. As soon as the value of the series of consecutive sensor signals decreases in a predetermined amount, the tissue controller 18 generates a tissue control signal TCS, indicating that the dermis Ic has been reached. After the tissue control signal TCS is generated, the ablator 10 stops issuing laser pulses 4, or the laser beam 4 is directed onto another location.

The embodiment according to figure 6 allows detecting various different tissues. The schematic cross-section of figure 8 shows an undesirable tissue Ig within the stratum corneum and partly within the epidermis Ib. This undesirable tissue Ig may for example be an alteration in the skin such as a tumor or a tattoo. The method and apparatus according to figure 1 or 6 allows to create a pore 2 of such depth, that by shot number 6 a bottom wall BS6 is created, being a little deeper than the border line Ih between the undesirable tissue Ig and the epidermis Ib. The tissue controller 18 recognises the tissue of the epidermis Ib and therefore allows to stop the laser beam 4. This allows automatically creating a pore 2 as deep as necessary to remove the undesirable tissue Ig. Two further pores 2 are created on the left and right side of the remaining undesirable tissue Ig, to completely remove the undesirable tissue Ig.

The device and method according to the invention allows porating a wide variety of different tissues. Figure 9 shows a partial cross-section of a finger with a finger nail Ii. The device and method according to the invention allows for example detecting the end of the finger nail Ii, or the beginning or end of the stratum corneum Ia, which allows creating pores penetrating predetermined tissue layers. In might be advantageous not to enter the epidermis Ib of the skin 1 below the finger nail Ii, because this epidermis Ib contains nerve ends, which would cause pain, if the created pore 2 would penetrate as deep as the epidermis Ib.

Figure 10 shows a laser micro-porator 10 comprising a Q-switched laser source 7 and a laser beam shaping and guiding device 8. The laser source 7 has a light source 7c for optical excitation of a laser active material 7b, and a set of reflecting mirrors 7d,7e. The laser source 7 comprises a laser cavity 7a containing a laser crystal 7b , preferably Er and optional additionally Pr doped YAG, which is pumped by an exciter 7c, the exciter 7c being a single emitter laser diode or a set of single emitter laser diode arrays like emitter bars or stacks of emitter bars. The laser source 7 further comprising an optical resonator comprised of a high reflectance mirror 7d positioned posterior to the laser crystal 7b and an output coupling mirror 7e positioned anterior to the laser crystal 7b, and a saturable absorber 7f positioned posterior to the laser crystal. The saturable absorber 7f works as a Q-switch. A focusing lens 8a and a diverging lens 8b are positioned beyond the output coupling mirror 7e, to create a parallel or quasi-parallel laser beam 4 or a focused laser beam 4. Instead of the lenses 8a, 8b, the microporator 10 could comprise different optical means 8a, 8b, which, for example, focus the laser beam 4 onto the surface of the skin 1. The diverging lens 8b can be moved by a motor 8c in the indicated direction. This allows a broadening or narrowing of the laser beam 4, which allows changing the width of the laser beam 4 and the energy fluence of the laser beam 4. A variable absorber 8d, driven by a motor 8e, is positioned beyond the diverging lens 8b, to vary the energy fluence of the laser beam 4. A deflector 8f, a mirror, driven by an x-y- drive 8g, is positioned beyond the absorber 8d for directing the laser beam 4 in various directions, to create individual pores 2 on the skin 1 on different positions. A control device 1 1 is connected by wires 1 1a with the laser source 7, drive elements 8c, 8e, 8g, sensors and other elements not disclosed in detail.

In a preferred embodiment the laser porator 10 also includes a feedback loop 13 respectively a feedback mechanism. In figure 10, the feedback loop 13 comprises a sender 9a with optics that produce a laser beam 9d, and a receiver with optics 9b. The laser beam 9d may have a smaller width than the diameter of the individual pore 2, for example five times smaller, so that

the laser beam 9d can reach the lower end of the individual pore 2. The deflection mirror 8f directs the beam of the sender 9a to the individual pore 2 to be measured, and guides the reflected beam 9d back to the receiver 9b. This measurement device 9, which can be built in different way, allows measuring properties of the lower end e.g. the water content of the respective tissue. In a preferred embodiment, properties of the individual pore 2 are measured each time after a pulsed laser beam 4 has been emitted to the individual pore 2, allowing controlling the effect of each laser pulse onto the depth of the individual pore 2. The feedback loop 13 can be built in various ways to be able to measure a feedback signal of an individual pore 2. The feedback loop 13 may, for example, comprise a sender 9a and a receiver 9b, built as a light intensity measurement device, or as a spectrograph 14, to detect changes in the intensity or spectrum of the light reflected by the lower end of the individual pore 2. This allows, for example, detecting whether the actual lower end 3a, 3b, 3c, 3d of the individual pore 2 is part of the stratum corneum Ia or of the epidermis Ib. The laser porator 10 also comprises a poration memory 12 containing specific data of the individual pores 2, in particular the initial microporation dataset. The laser porator 10 preferably creates the individual pores 2 as predescribed in the poration memory 12. The laser porator 10 also comprises one ore more input-output device 15 or interfaces 15, to enable data exchange with the porator 10, in particular to enable the transfer of the parameters of the individual pores 2, the initial microporation dataset, into the poration memory 12, or to get data such as the actual depth or the total surface Ai of a specific individual pore 2i. The input-output device 15 can be a card reader, a scanner, a wired interface or for example a wireless connection such as Bluetooth.

The porator further can comprise one or more input-output devices or user interfaces 15 for manually exchange date like data of substances, individuals and much more. The user interface can for example comprise displays, buttons, voice control or a finger print sensor.

There are different ways to build a laser source 7. The laser source 7 may, for example, be built as a laser diode with optics that create a beam 4 of

fixed width, for example a width of 250 μm. The Laser source 7 can advantageously also comprises an absorber 8d. In a simple version, the laser porator 10 can only comprise the laser source 7 with a built in lens system, and a deflection mirror 8f for direction the laser beam 4 in various directions. Instead of the absorber 8d, the intensity of the laser beam 4 can directly be modulated by driving the laser diode 7 accordingly.

The pulse repetition frequency of the laser source 7 is within a range of 1 Hz to 1 MHz, preferably within 100 Hz to 100 kHz, and most preferred within 500 Hz to 10 kHz. Within one application of the laser porator 10, between 2 and 1 million individual pores 2 can be produced in the biological membrane 1 , preferably 10 to 10000 individual pores 2, and most preferred 10 to 1000 individual pores 2, each pore 2 having a width in the range between 0,05 mm and 0,5 mm or up to 1 mm, and each pore 2 having a depth in the range between 5 μm and 200 μm, but the lower end of the individual pore 2 being preferably within the epidermis Ib. If necessary the porator 10 is also able to create pores of more than 200 μm depth.

The laser porator 10 may also comprises an interlock mechanism, so that a laser pulse is emitted only when it is directed onto the skin 1. The feedback loop 13 could for example be used to detect whether the pulse is directed onto the skin 1. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that there are numerous ways to create an interlock mechanism, and all such ways are contemplated.

The water content of the individual pore 2 can be measured before and after applying a laser pulse, and due to the fact that the stratum corneum, the epidermis and the dermis have different properties, for example a different amount of water, and depending on the change of the amount of the ablation per applied laser pulse, if the same energy per pulse is used, one can determine whether the lower end of the pore is in the stratum corneum, the epidermis or the dermis. In a preferred embodiment, the thickness of the stratum corneum Ia, or if necessary the epidermis Ib can be determined based, on information about the change of the amount of the ablation in

depth per pulse. In another embodiment the tissue layers can be differentiated with spectroscopic means.

Figure 10 discloses a circular laser beam 4 creating a cylindrical individual pore 2. The individual pore 2 can have other shapes, for example in that the laser beam 4 has not a circular but an elliptical shape, a square or a rectangle. The individual pore 2 can also be shaped by an appropriate movement of the deflector 8f, which allows creation of individual pores 2 with a wide variety of shapes.

Figure 1 1 shows a tip 8 pressed onto the skin 1 , the tip 8 having a convex tissue biasing element 8a. Most preferably the curvature of the tissue biasing element 8a is adapted to deflect the skin 1 such that preferably all deflected laser beams 4, 4a, 4b,... hit the skin 1 at about the same point of focus, which allows to hit the skin 1 with a laser beam 4 or a laser pulse with similar energy. This allows creating a plurality of pores 2 with reproducible shape and properties. Figure 12 shows another tip 8 pressed onto the skin 1. Tip 8 comprises a planar tissue biasing element 8a as well as an F-Theta lens 8i. As disclosed the F-Theta lens 8i causes the various deflected laser beams 4, 4a, 4b to hit the skin at a defined point of focus. Figure 13 shows another tip 8 pressed onto the finger nail Ie of a finger Id. The tip 8 comprises a concave tissue biasing element 8a adapted to the shape of the finger nail. The tip 8 comprises an optical path correction element 8i which is adapted such that the deflected laser beams 4, 4a, 4b hit the finger nail Ie with their focal point. A man skilled in the art understands how to adopt and choose an optical path correction element (for example shape, refraction index, thickness and so on) such that the deflected laser beam 4,4a,4b is focused on the tissue hit by the laser beam 4,4a,4b, also when the tissue biasing element 8a has a planar, convex or concave shape. The optical path correction element 8i may be part of the tip 8, but most preferably the optical path correction element 8i is part of the laser porator 10, so the same optical path correction element 8i can be used many times.

Figure 10 discloses a deflector 8f which allows creating a plurality of pores 2 in a biological tissue. Figure 4 discloses a scanner able to move the laser beam 4 in such a way on the skin 1 , that an incision, for example along a straight line, may be created. Similar, the laser device 10 disclosed in figure 1 allows creating a path 2d of pores 2, as disclosed in figure 15, the individual pores 2 laying one beside the other, leaving no side wall between consecutive pores 2. The path 2 indicates by example about how the pores 2 may be ablated to create a whole area of ablated tissue. The device and method according to the invention therefore allows, for example, to completely removing the stratum corneum of a predetermined area of the skin 1 , while not or only very little removing the epidermis. Figure 5 discloses such a removal of the stratum corneum only for a two dimensional incision. The method disclosed in figure 15 allows a three dimensional removal of the stratum corneum. In a further method to operate the laser device, it might be advantageous to measure reflected of the pore 2 not for each consecutive pore, but only after a view pores 2 are created without measuring reflected light. In the method disclosed in figure 15, for example only for the pores 2 displayed in black back scattered light is measured to detect a tissue layer. Assuming that for the first black pore 2, 15 laser pulses 4 were needed to completely remove the stratum corneum, it can therefore be assumed that the next pore 2, arranged just beside the created pore 2, has similar properties, so that the same amount of 15 laser pulses is applied.

The device according to figure 10 may also be suitable to remove undesirable tissue Ig, for example from within the skin 1. Figure 16 shows a longitudinal section of the skin 1 with an undesirable tissue Ig. Figure 17 shows the same longitudinal section of the skin 1 with the removed undesirable tissue Ig. The undesirable tissue Ig was of three dimensional shape and could be completely removed, thereby destroying the healthy tissue as little as possible, and leaving a hole 11 in the skin 1. The consecutive series of individual pores 2 created by the method according to the invention can be recognised in that bottom of the hole 11 showing steps. The steps are formed

by the bottom line of the respective pore 2, and the total of the ablated pores 2 leaving a bottom area in the hole 11 showing these steps.

Even though only ablation of the skin is disclosed in the previous figures, the method and device can be used for detecting tissues of different properties in a wide variety of biological tissues, and is therefore not restricted to the skin.

To recognise properties of the tissue within a pore 2, also a two-dimensional sensor may be used, the sensor receiving back scattered light from the skin and the pore, and the skin and the pore being illuminated, for example by a light source. As soon as the pore depth reaches the epidermis, the pore becomes very dark, because the high water content of the epidermis omits the reflection of the light. Further because the laser beam dehydrates tissue, there is a strong contrast between the tissue not being directly hit by the laser beam but being dehydrated, this tissue highly reflecting the light due to the effect that the tissue id dried. The properties of the pores, respectively the skin within the pore, may be recognised using a two dimensional sensor to receive back scattered light from the pore and the surface of the skin. As soon as a pore becomes very dark on the sensor, this indicated that the pore reached the epidermis. There is a plurality of known methods for two dimensional picture analysis, which would be suitable to be used for the detection of pores, and in particular for the detection that the pore reached a different tissue layer such as the epidermis or dermis.