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American Institute of Physics



Book Review

Applied Laser Medicine

Hans-Peter Berlien and Gerhard J. Müller, eds.
Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg, New York, 2003
740 pp.
ISBN 3-540-67005-X

Reviewed by F. Javier Gonzalez

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Applied Laser MedicineLasers and optics have affected health care in many ways. The medical potential of the laser has been explored almost since its invention in 1958 by Arthur Schawlow and Charles Townes. At the beginning of the 1980s, the applications were limited, and most used one of three continuous-wave lasers. At the end of that decade, however, there were a great many medical applications that used a variety of pulsed and continuous-wave lasers.

Applied Laser Medicine, edited by Hans-Peter Berlien and Gerhard J. Müller, is a revised version of a loose-leaf book published in German by the Laser Medicine Center and the German Society for Lasers in Medicine and Surgery, which has been used in the training of more than 3,000 physicians since 1986. According to Berlien and Müller, “This book supplies the clinician and the scientist with technical and medical background, the basics of biomedical photonics, and provides practical guidelines for and clear descriptions of established treatment methods.”

The book is divided into four parts. The first, Basics, deals with basic laser physics and the effects of laser radiation in biological tissues. The second part, Principles of Laser Application in Medicine, is a good description of the equipment and techniques used in laser-based therapy. The third part, Areas of Application, occupies more than half of the book and is where the main value of the book resides. It consists of some 400 pages of photographs, drawings, and detailed descriptions of laser applications in ophthalmology, oral surgery, gastroenterology, angiology, plastic surgery and dermatology, urology, orthopedic medicine, and more. The book ends with a part devoted to laser safety in medicine.

This book is a must for the practicing physician because it deals with every type of medical laser application. It gathers everything there is to know about lasers in medicine by collecting a large number of case studies presented by specialists from all over the world, each having extensive practical experience. The book also gives medical doctors a good introduction to laser physics and summarizes all the available laser systems and their medical applications.

Applied Laser Medicine, however, is not intended for physicists or technical people who want to immerse themselves for the first time in medical physics. Although the physics principles used in the book are at the undergraduate level, the laser–tissue interaction part is treated at a higher level. It will not, however, be of much interest to the researcher working on laser propagation through inhomogeneous media, for example. The book is specifically designed for the medical community, and the experienced medical physicist with a good medical background will also benefit from it.

F. Javier Gonzalez is an assistant professor of physics at the Research Institute of Optical Communications IICO in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. He has published more than 10 articles in the areas of infrared detectors and infrared focal-plane arrays.