We are proud to serve our community with the highest caliber of cardiovascular care.
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Dr. Robert Mohapatra, Dr. Bryan Saia, Dr. Vivek Sailam, and Dr. Jason Smith.

Please call 856-546-3006 ext. 2100 to make an appointment. 

Laser Lead Extraction

Laser lead extraction is a highly specialized and advanced procedure designed to address issues with pacemaker or defibrillator leads that have become problematic or compromised. Over time, these leads can experience damage, infections, or become embedded in the veins, necessitating their removal or replacement. Laser lead extraction is a minimally invasive approach that uses focused laser energy to gently and precisely remove the leads, restoring optimal device functionality and minimizing potential complications.

What is Laser Lead Extraction?

Laser lead extraction is a safe, effective procedure performed to remove problematic pacemaker or defibrillator leads that have complications like infections, fractures, or dislodgements. Specially trained electrophysiologists use laser energy to free leads from encapsulating scar tissue and gently remove them.

Prompt extraction clears any lead infections before they can spread. Malfunctioning leads losing function need to be replaced, so they are removed to allow new device implantation. Older leads may also be taken out when upgrading existing devices. New blockages obstructing leads can also necessitate extraction and repositioning. By promptly removing damaged, infected, or obstructed cardiac leads, laser extraction helps restore normal device function and avoids serious complications. 

Risks & Benefits of Laser Lead Extraction

The benefits of laser lead extraction are significant. By resolving lead-related problems, patients can experience improved device performance, reduced infection risks, and enhanced overall well-being. However, as with any medical procedure, there are associated risks. These may include bleeding, damage to surrounding tissues, or the possibility of requiring additional interventions. Your cardiologist will conduct a thorough evaluation of your medical history, lead condition, and overall health to determine if the benefits of the procedure outweigh the potential risks in your specific case.

Benefits of Laser Lead Extraction

  • Improved device functionality
    Laser lead extraction can restore optimal performance of pacemakers and defibrillators by removing compromised leads. This leads to better heart rhythm management and enhanced overall cardiac function.
  • Reduced infection risk
    In cases where leads are infected or damaged, laser lead extraction removes potential sources of infection, promoting better health and reducing the risk of complications.
  • Enhanced quality of life
    By resolving lead-related issues, patients often experience an improved quality of life, with fewer symptoms and a better ability to engage in daily activities.
  • Minimally invasive
    Laser lead extraction is a minimally invasive procedure, which means smaller incisions, shorter recovery times, and reduced discomfort compared to more invasive surgical methods.

Risks of Laser Lead Extraction

  • Bleeding and hematoma
    As with any procedure involving catheterization, there is a risk of bleeding or hematoma at the procedure site.
  • Perforation or tear
    In rare cases, the laser extraction process could potentially cause perforation or tearing of blood vessels or heart tissue.
  • Infection
    While the procedure aims to address infections associated with leads, there is a slight risk of introducing infection during the extraction process.
  • Arrhythmias
    Temporary irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias) may occur during the procedure but are usually manageable.

What to Expect Before, During, and After Laser Lead Extraction

Laser extraction is performed by electrophysiologists with specialized training in a fully equipped operating room. The patient receives general anesthesia for an immobile, pain-free procedure. The chest area is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Under imaging guidance, the laser sheath is guided down along the lead to precisely weaken scar tissue attachments using laser energy. Once freed, the dysfunctional lead can be safely extracted.

After analyzing removed leads to ensure completeness, the pocket is irrigated and the insertion site is closed. Strong antibiotics are given to prevent infection. Recovery typically requires 1-3 days in the hospital to manage pain and monitor for complications before discharge. Here are a few other things to keep in mind post-procedure:

  • You must listen to your body and rest as needed. If you experience any pain, bleeding, or other concerns, be sure to contact your doctor.
  • You will need to gradually increase your activity level over time. You should avoid strenuous activity for a few weeks after the procedure.
  • You will need to schedule regular follow-up appointments with your doctor to monitor your heart rhythm and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.

Am I a Candidate for Laser Lead Extraction?

The decision of whether or not to undergo laser lead extraction is a complex one that should be made in consultation with a cardiovascular specialist. However, in cases where lead complications are present, laser lead extraction can be a safe and effective way to improve heart health and quality of life. Here are some key considerations that will help determine your candidacy:

  • Lead condition
    Candidates for laser lead extraction typically have leads that are damaged, infected, or malfunctioning. The procedure aims to improve device functionality by removing compromised leads.
  • Overall health
    Your general health status plays a significant role in determining your candidacy. Your medical history, current health conditions, and overall well-being will be evaluated to ensure the procedure is safe for you.
  • Lead location
    The location of the leads within the heart will be assessed. Leads that are difficult to access or located near critical structures may impact candidacy.
  • Individual risks and benefits
    Your healthcare provider will discuss the potential risks and benefits of laser lead extraction relative to your specific situation. This personalized assessment will help you make an informed decision.
  • Alternative treatment options
    Depending on the severity of the lead-related issues, your healthcare provider may explore alternative treatment options. It's important to discuss the pros and cons of different approaches to determine the most suitable course of action.

Remove Problematic Pacemaker and Defibrillator Leads Safely with Laser Lead Extraction

If you have a cardiac pacemaker or defibrillator and experience symptoms like swelling, pain, or fever indicating a potential lead infection, prompt extraction is critical to avoid serious complications. Laser extraction also removes leads that have become non-functional over time, allowing for new device placement. Don't wait with damaged or infected cardiac leads - safe removal can help avoid significant risks. Request an appointment with our electrophysiology team to determine if this procedure is right for you.


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