Early Results of Transmyocardial Revascularization With a Holmium Laser1

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Transmyocardial laser revascularization (TMLR), a surgical technique designed to improve perfusion in the ischemic myocardium by creating transmural channels, has been performed thus far using a carbon dioxide laser, with apparently gratifying early results. We have investigated clinically TMLR using a holmium laser as sole therapy for patients with coronary artery disease that is not amenable to traditional treatment such as coronary artery bypass grafting or percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty.


From November 1995 to December 1996, 16 patients underwent TMLR using a holmium laser. Their mean age was 68 ± 6 years and 75% were men. Previous coronary artery bypass grafting or percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty had been performed in 81% and 31% of the patients, respectively. Before operation, their mean anginal class was 3.4 ± 0.5 and their mean left ventricular ejection fraction was 0.49 ± 0.06. Six patients had unstable angina.


There were no operative deaths. The mean duration of TMLR was 27 ± 13 minutes and the mean duration of the entire operation was 120 ± 40 minutes. There were no major postoperative complications and the mean hospital stay was 8 ± 4 days. There were 2 late deaths, 1 that occurred 40 days after TMLR as a result of stroke and 1 that occurred 4 months after TMLR as a result of myocardial infarction. Current survivors have been followed up for a mean of 10 ± 4 months (range, 3 to 15 months), with 7 patients followed up for 1 year. At last follow-up, the mean anginal class had decreased to 1.8 ± 0.7 (p = 0.001) and the patients had increased exercise tolerance and a reduced number of hospitalizations. However, no statistically significant changes in the percentage of segments with fixed or reversible ischemia and no statistically significant differences in the viability scores of lased and nonlased segments were observed.


Transmyocardial laser revascularization using a holmium laser is a simple technique with low operative risk and low morbidity. Early results confirm that clinical improvement is obtained in most patients, although significant changes in myocardial perfusion are not evident in the short term.

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