The history of otosclerosis surgery has been marked by major advances in both surgical technique and instrumentation. Fenestration, stapes mobilization, total stapedectomy, and stapedotomy were important advances in technique. Loupes, binocular microscopy, speculum holders, and microdrills similarly advanced instrumentation. What about fiberoptic argon laser handpieces for use in laser stapedotomy? Do they represent a significant advance in instrumentation, or are they merely another gimmick? Are fiberoptic argon laser handpieces safe? Experimentally, the thermal effects of argon laser, delivered via fiberoptic handpieces to a cadaver stapes and model vestibule, were studied. No significant temperature elevations within a model vestibule were observed during stapedotomy. There were significant temperature elevations within the laser plume at the level of the facial nerve. These findings are consistent with our experience in over 2200 primary and revision stapedotomies. To date, there have been no cases of significant hearing loss or permanent facial paralysis related to the use of these fiberoptic handpieces. We believe fiberoptic argon laser handpieces are as safe as conventional microsurgical instruments in stapes surgery.
© 1993, The American Journal of Otology, Inc.