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Acute effects of a copper vapour laser on atheroma


The acute histological effects of a commercially available copper vapour laser (CVL) on normal and atherosclerotic arterial wall were studied. The multi-cyclic CVL produces a quasi continuous wave output at 511 nm (green) and 578 nm (yellow) [green/yellow ratio 2∶1]. Tissue craters were produced in segments of normal and atherosclerotic human femoral artery using a maximum of 8 J of laser energy delivered with a bare 1 mm quartz fibre in contact and perpendicular to the tissue. Crater dimensions and ablation volumes were determined histologically using an optical graticule. Ablation of atheroma was almost three times more efficient than ablation of normal arterial wall (p<0.001). A narrow zone of vacuolization and coagulative thermal damage lined the crater margins suggesting a predominantly photothermal ablative mechanism. In conclusion, selective ablation of atheroma using low power copper vapour laser light is possible. The CVL is an attractive alternative to the argon ion laser because of its low running costs and applicability to other medical disciplines. Therefore, its potential application in laser angioplasty merits further study, preferably using a modified optical fibretip delivery system.

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Correspondence to Simon Ashley.

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Ashley, S., Brooks, S.G., Wright, H. et al. Acute effects of a copper vapour laser on atheroma. Laser Med Sci 6, 23–27 (1991).

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Key words

  • Copper vapour laser
  • Laser angioplasty
  • Atherosclerosis