We have sought to briefly outline the history and current role of laser therapy in airway obstruction. A primary goal in the use of laser therapy is the safe, effective, and rapid palliation of symptoms owing to tracheal or bronchial obstruction. This seems clearly supported in the literature despite some variation in definitions as to measurement of success. Objective criteria for improvement has also been studied, with authors noting improvement in walk tests, spirometric studies, and caliber of airways after treatment in significant percentages of patients. Patient survival, as noted by Ramser and Beamis, may not be the proper endpoint when discussing therapy, which for malignant causes, is meant to be palliative. Noting this, there are many benign conditions that may be effectively treated with laser therapy with a possible 'cure' for some lesions defined as 'carcinoma in situ.' We believe laser therapy in the treatment of airway obstruction is an important tool that has proven beneficial in the therapy of benign and malignant lesions of the airway. Although future studies should prospectively examine survival characteristics, the current evidence firmly supports the use of laser as a useful modality of therapy in our endeavors to provide palliative and potentially curative care to our patients with lung disease.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine