Continuous Wave Pulsed vs. Superpulsed Lasers
Continuous Wave (CW)
Most therapy lasers marketed in the US are CW pulsed type. They produce a fixed level of power during the emission time, and lack the high peak power of a “super” pulsed laser. Most continuous lasers can be made to flash a number of times per second to simulate pulse-like rhythms by interrupting the flow of light much like rapidly turning on and off a light switch. This feature is more appropriately termed a “modulated,” “CW pulsed,” or “chopped” emission so that it is not confused with actual superpulsed laser technologies.
Superpulsed lasers produce high power impulses of light for a very brief duration up to 100,000 Hz or Pulse duration of 200 nanoseconds to more effectively drive light energy into the target tissue. There are minimal [depending on the patient, medications, etc] thermal effects in the tissue because the pulses are of extremely short duration (s), thus emitting low average power. In fact, this average power can be even lower than that of a pulsed continuous laser (CW) device. It is the average power, and not the peak power, that can cause tissue damage and ablation.
Which Laser Should I Buy?
Your choice of a continuous wave laser versus a superpulsed laser for therapy should be based on the actual needs of your clinical practice in concert with the types of patients and conditions you typically treat. You shouldn’t buy “more” laser than you actually need, but you should be certain that your purchase would provide optimum treatment outcomes both for you and your patients. Both types of lasers provide therapy for pain, inflammation and arthritis.