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New medical laser can be used to clean clogged arteries

Too much plaque in the arteries can cause heart disease, artery disease, and chronic kidney disease.

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(Photo by MorphoBio via Shutterstock)

By Gwyn Wright via SWNS

A laser that can clean human arteries - reducing the risk of heart and kidney disease -has been developed.

Scientists have devised a method that involves using a low-power laser and ultrasound to safely and efficiently remove plaque from the arteries.

The low-power nanosecond pulsed laser produces bubbles that expand, collapse and disrupt the plaque.

Too much plaque in the arteries can cause heart disease, artery disease, and chronic kidney disease.

It is traditionally treated by inserting and inflating a balloon to expand the artery.

Other laser-based treatments can remove blockages rather than just inflating them but they are not often used because they are not particularly effective and carry a high risk of complications.

Rohit Singh, who developed the technique, said: “In conventional laser angioplasty, a high laser power is required for the entire cavitation process, whereas in our technology, a lower laser power is only required for initiating the cavitation process."

Mr. Singh, a graduate research assistant at the University of Kansas, added: “Overall, the combination of ultrasound and laser reduces the need for laser power and improves the efficiency of atherosclerotic plaque removal."

The method destroys rather than merely narrowing the plaque, which means it does not re-narrow the artery in the way a balloon or stenting, which used a metal or plastic tube, do.

To develop the technique, the researchers used non-living carotid artery plaque and pork belly samples.

They are now planning to test the method on pigs.

Once this is done, they say both laser and ultrasound techniques are commonly used by clinicians and should be easy to teach and implement.

The team is not combining low-power lasers and ultrasound techniques just so they can clean up people’s arteries- they are also using the method to prevent blindness and dissolve blood clots in veins.

The research was presented at the 182nd Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in Denver, Colorado.

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