A scoping review of the clinical efficacy and safety of the novel thulium fiber laser: The rising star of laser lithotripsy
Introduction: The holmium:yttrium-aluminum-garnet (Ho:YAG) laser is the gold standard for intracorporeal lithotripsy. Preclinical reports suggest the thulium laser fibre (TFL) may possess advantages over the Ho:YAG laser, including improved lithotripsy efficacy, enhanced safety, and lower costs. Although the TFL is well-characterized in-vitro, there are no reviews examining TFL lithotripsy in a clinical setting.
Methods: A review of the literature was conducted using a systematic search of MEDLINE, PubMed, and Embase, yielding a total of 130 manuscripts published up to May 2020. Two independent reviewers selected studies for screening, eligibility, and inclusion into the scoping review. Following the title, abstract, and full-text review, 14 articles were analyzed.
Results: Within these articles, there were 13 prospective cohort studies and one case series. The average sample size was 100 participants. Study followup durations ranged from four weeks to three months. TFL had comparable stone-free rates to Ho:YAG lasers and improved operating time. TFL was subjectively favorable in terms of stone retropulsion, stone fragmentation, endoscopic maneuverability, and endoscopic visibility. TFL appeared clinically safe and did not result in any major complications. Many studies were underpowered and non-peer-reviewed, demonstrating the need for additional research in this field.
Conclusions: The TFL has the potential to catalyze a paradigm shift in laser lithotripsy. While the objective of this scoping review was to describe the contemporary landscape of the literature, it is important to consider that inferences posed by the studies described herein must be tempered by the low quality of available evidence.
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