Apparatus for Ultrashort-pulsed Laser Treatment for Vocal Cord Surgery

Life Sciences : Therapeutics

Available for licensing


  • Adela Ben-Yakar, Ph.D. , Mechanical Engineering
  • Christopher Hoy , Mechanical Engineering
  • William Everett , Mechanical Engineering
  • James Kobler , Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Richard Anderson , Massachusetts General Hospital
  • William Farinelli , Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Steven Zeitels , Massachusetts General Hospital

Background/unmet need

One of the biggest problems in otolaryngology is the treatment of scarred vocal folds. Vocal fold scarring, which can occur for a variety of reasons, increases the stiffness of the vocal fold and can damage or eliminate the patient’s voice. There is currently no agreed-upon treatment.

One of the most promising methods of treatment involves the injection of soft polymeric gels to restore the proper viscoelastic, or active biomaterials such as hyaluronic acid, growth factors, or stem cells, which can remodel the scar tissue. So far, the success of this technique has been limited by the ability of the physician to localize the material in the sub-epithelial plane where it can properly function.

Invention Description

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a novel technology composing of a surgical device for delivering ultrashort laser pulses to create voids at targeted depths below the surface of human vocal folds. During injection of the biomaterial, the injected material will flow along the path with least resistance and fill the planar void, thus localizing the material where it is needed.

Furthermore, the creation of these planar sub-epithelial voids may also result in the secondary benefit of freeing the outer layer of vocal fold tissue enough to restore some degree of proper voice function even without the use of an injected biomaterial.


  • Capable of delivering ultrashort laser pulses to the larynx
  • Incorporates microscopic imaging capabilities and a miniaturized scanning mechanism for guidance and monitoring of the microsurgery

Market potential/applications

Treatment of vocal fold scarring
Treatment of burns specifically in the trachea or esophagus
Delivery of drugs specifically in the trachea or esophagus

Development Stage

Proof of concept

IP Status