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Lasers Surg Med. 1994;14(2):101-10.

Coronary laser angioplasty.

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  • 1Section of Cardiovascular Disease, West Haven VA Medical Center, Connecticut 06516.


With the widespread growth of percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA), the realization of limitations of balloon angioplasty stimulated the development of alternative revascularization approaches such as laser angioplasty. PTCA is best suited for the treatment of discrete atherosclerotic stenoses, with lower success rates and more difficult application in patients with diffuse atherosclerotic disease or total occlusions [1-3]. Moreover, despite an initially high primary success rate, coronary angioplasty is still plagued by a restenosis rate as high as 57% [4]. The potential advantages of laser angioplasty address the limitations of PTCA. In contrast to balloon angioplasty where the plaque material is compressed or displaced, laser angioplasty ablates the plaque material [5]. This bulk removal of plaque material could improve acute procedural success rates, decrease complication rates, treat "untreatable" lesions, and decrease restenosis rates. Because laser energy can vaporize atherosclerotic plaque, there may be no requirement for a preexisting channel, and therefore laser angioplasty may have a high success rate for the treatment of coronary occlusions. In its best embodiment, laser angioplasty offers the potential for passing a fiberoptic catheter through the entire length of the coronary circulation to vaporize all atherosclerotic plaque along the arterial wall. This applicability for the treatment of diffuse atherosclerotic disease would offer treatment opportunities currently unavailable with conventional bypass surgery or angioplasty.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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