Transmyocardial Laser Therapy: A Strategic Approach
Background: Coronary artery bypass and percutaneous intervention have become the established methods of coronary revascularization in treating angina pectoris. Subsets of angina patients, however, are not amenable to either of these procedures. Transmyocardial laser revascularization (TMR) has been developed as a potential treatment to address such patients, and clinical research to date illustrates the success of TMR for this patient group.
Strategic Plan Summary: Although the symptoms of ischemic heart disease manifest themselves in a variety of ways, the best results with TMR are seen in patients with severe angina rather than in patients with silent ischemia or congestive heart failure. Potential TMR patients receive diagnostic tests to determine if and where the therapy should be applied. A recent cardiac catheterization is required to document the status of and the coronary-system suitability for the planned intervention. It is not appropriate to assume that a patient with nonbypassable, noninterventional coronary artery disease has to be relegated to medical therapy only. Additionally, echocardiography demonstrates the status of cardiac valves and segmental wall motion activity. This knowledge allows the surgeon to determine the sequence of surgery and if abnormalities are present. Once the decision to use TMR use has been made, there are 2 approaches--sole therapy or adjunctive therapy. TMR is not to be substituted for a feasible bypass graft, but the best time to make this decision may well be during the surgery itself, because grafts that appear surgically feasible on an angiogram may be less feasible after the chest has been opened. The decision to perform sole-therapy TMR in the absence of bypassable vessels clearly must be made before opening the chest. Whether to use cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) and the sequence in which to perform TMR and bypass grafts are based on surgeon preference. The advantage of performing TMR on CPB is that channels can quickly be lased without pause. A potential advantage of performing TMR before bypass grafts is that "channel leak" (bleeding) can be minimized by the conclusion of the surgery. Complete revascularization has become technically more difficult because of the increasing use of percutaneous approaches and because patients are being referred for coronary artery bypass grafting much later in the course of their coronary disease progression than before. TMR may well be a viable alternative to bypassing a heavily diseased, previously intervened, small-diameter coronary artery. Thus, a model in which myocardial perfusion is considered within the context of the natural circulation can be conceived as an alternative to a model in which circulation is altered by interventional, surgical, and/or transmyocardial methods. TMR has been shown to be effective in accomplishing a complete revascularization when the restoration of circulation to ischemic territories with interventional therapy, bypass surgery, or a combination of both has been ineffective. We recommend that interested users follow this "complete revascularization strategy" algorithm for all ischemic vessels being considered for interventional or surgical treatment. Running each diseased vessel through this thought process will ensure that available treatment options are considered in the optimization of a patient's outcome.
Conclusion: The use of TMR for angina relief has evolved into a clinically proven technology that has enabled physicians to address difficult revascularization cases with a therapy that is safe and effective.
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