The excimer laser has several potential advantages over conventional balloon angioplasty in the management of stenoses of the native coronary arteries and of the ostia of saphenous vein grafts. Its use in nine patients, eight of whom were classed as high risk, is described. Four lesions involved the ostia of saphenous vein grafts, three of protected left main stems, and two of native right coronary arteries. Stand alone laser was used in seven cases and laser with additional balloon angioplasty was used in two vein graft stenoses. Acute laser success was achieved in all cases, with a mean reduction of stenosis from 82% to 34% after laser alone and to 28% when balloon angioplasty was used as well. One patient died during laser angioplasty to a non-ostial lesion (procedural success rate 89%) and a second died ten weeks after the procedure. In one patient recurrent angina developed (clinical recurrence rate 25%) and restenosis was confirmed on angiography. Follow up angiography was also performed on the other six surviving patients, all of whom were symptom free and none of whom showed evidence of significant restenosis (restenosis rate 14%). With a mean follow up of 19.7 months the overall success rate was 67%.
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