Laser thermal-assisted balloon angioplasty (LABA) was prospectively applied in the treatment of 56 atherosclerotic femoropopliteal occlusive lesions in 51 consecutive patients. All procedures were performed in the operating room using a neodynium:yttrium-aluminum-garnet (Nd:YAG) laser source, and patients were evaluated for immediate and long-term hemodynamic and clinical improvement. Technically successful recanalization was achieved in 82% of cases, with 57% of all patients (32 of 56) obtaining early hemodynamic and clinical improvement. Long-term clinical success (by life-table analysis) was obtained by only 22.5% at 6 months, and only 13.5% at 12 months. Patients presenting with intermittent claudication did significantly better than those presenting for limb salvage (p=0.01), and trends toward improved outcome were noted for short versus long lesions as well as for patients with "good" versus "poor" distal run-off (NS). Procedure-related morbidity occurred in 14%, and there was one peri-procedural mortality (1.8%). We conclude that the use of LABA is associated with long-term clinical success in only a small proportion of patients, and that widespread clinical application of this technique is not indicated at the present time.
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