The delivery of laser energy to the coronary circulation by bare optical fibres may cause perforation of the vessel. Experimental studies have shown that this complication can be avoided if the optical fibre is fitted with a metal cap to prevent the potentially dangerous forward projection of the laser beam. This study was performed to assess the feasibility and short term effects of percutaneous coronary laser recanalisation with these modified fibres. Recanalisation of a severe stenosis of the left anterior descending artery was attempted in six patients who were referred for coronary artery bypass grafting. Although the percutaneous technique was used, the laser procedure was performed during coronary bypass surgery before the start of cardiopulmonary bypass to minimise the effects of potential complications. A 1.5 mm diameter metal-capped fibre coupled to an argon laser was advanced percutaneously over a guide wire positioned across the stenosis. In the first patient the delivery of 152 J resulted in the gradual passage of the fibre through a 3 cm long stenosis. Repeat angiography showed a reduction in the severity of the stenosis. In the second patient the delivery of 112 J failed to allow fibre advancement; a further 80 J pulse caused perforation which was repaired. In the remaining four patients the delivery of laser energy in the attempt to traverse the stenosis was limited to less than 90 J. In two of the four patients the severity of stenosis was reduced. No further complications were seen. Percutaneous coronary laser recanalisation with metal-capped optical fibres is feasible but improvements of currently available technology are needed to increase the primary success rate.
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