Laser probe ablation of normal and atherosclerotic human aorta in vitro: A first thermographic and histologic analysis

A. J. Welch, A. B. Bradley, J. H. Torres, M. Motamedi, J. J. Ghidoni, J. A. Pearce, H. Hussein, R. A. O'Rourke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


The metal-tipped optical fiber or 'laser probe' has been extensively studied in animal preparations in vivo and in human clinical trials of revascularization. The aim of this study was to evaluate the thermal characteristics of laser probe tissue ablation and to contrast the vascular tissue response to exposure to the laser probe and bare optical fiber. A 2 mm laser probe was heated with up to 4 W of argon-ion laser irradiation and applied to six postmortem strips of human nonatherosclerotic aorta as well as to five atherosclerotic aortic specimens. Surface temperature maps of the laser probe and the vascular tissue in air were obtained via 8 to 12 μm thermographic imaging. Laser probe temperature was additionally monitored via thermocouples. Two strips each of normal and diseased aorta were irradiated directly with the bare optical fiber. Thus a total of 43 laser probe application sites and 19 bare fiberoptic laser irradiation sites on a total of 15 aortic strips were analyzed both thermographically and histologically. Based on measured temperature rises and histologic findings, the following observations were made: (1) The laser probe heats initially at its tip and attains a uniform surface temperature distribution within 5 sec. The steady-state temperature attained by the probe is inversely related to the thermal conductivity of the surrounding media. In all media studied, probe temperature increases linearly with applied laser energy. (2) Tissue ablation starts at temperatures greater than 100°C, and ablation temperatures typically exceed 180°C. Adventitial temperatures during laser probe application may reach 70°C. Tissue ablation is enhanced both by greater laser energy deposition in the probe and by higher force at which the probe is applied to tissue. (3) Ablation of fibrofatty atheromata is more extensive than of nonatherosclerotic aortic tissue. This may be due to the lower thermal conductivity of atheromatous tissue. (4) In contrast to direct argon-ion laser ablation of aortic tissue, laser probe-mediated ablation occurs in a controlled fashion, is not associated with extensive subintimal dissections, and allows uniform conduction of heat to tissue as reflected by essentially 'isothermal' injury lines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1353-1363
Number of pages11
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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