Laser tissue welding can be achieved using tunable Cr.sup.4+ lasers, semiconductor lasers and fiber lasers, where the weld strength follows the absorption spectrum of water. The use of gelatin and esterified gelatin as solders in conjunction with laser inducted tissue welding impart much stronger tensile and torque strengths than albumin solders. Selected NIR wavelength from the above lasers can improve welding and avoid thermal injury to tissue when used alone or with gelatin and esterified gelatin solders. These discoveries can be used to enhance laser tissue welding of tissues such as skin, mucous, bone, blood vessel, nerve, brain, liver, pancreas, spleen, kidney, lung, bronchus, respiratory track, urinary tract, gastrointestinal tract, or gynecologic tract and as a sealant for pulmonary air leaks and fistulas such as intestinal, rectal and urinary fistulas.
This invention was made with Government support from the Department of Energy, Center for Laser Imaging and Cancer Diagnostics, Grant #DE-FG02-98ER62560 (RF47997-00-03). The Government has certain rights in the invention.