Background and Objective: A large number of clinical trials of transmyocardial laser revascularization (TMLR) have been conducted to treat severe ischemic heart diseases. A variety of laser sources have been used or tested for this treatment, however, no comprehensive study has been performed to reveal the mechanism and the optimum laser irradiation condition for the myocardium tissue ablation. There have been reported limited experimental data of the high-intensity pulsed laser ablation of myocardium tissues. Study Design/Materials and Methods: A 1064-nm Q-switched Nd:YAG laser and its 2nd (532 nm), 3rd (355 nm), and 4th (266 nm) harmonics were used for ablation experiments. At each wavelength, 25 laser pulses irradiated the porcine myocardium tissue samples at a constant laser intensity (peak laser power divided by laser spot area) of ∼2 GW/cm2 and the ablation depths were measured. During ablation, laser-induced optical and acoustic emissions were measured to investigate the ablation mechanism at each laser wavelength. For the ablated tissues, histological observation was made with a polarization optical microscope. Results: It was shown that the ablation efficiency did not directly depend on the linear absorption coefficient of the tissue; the ablation depth was maximized at 355 and 1064 nm, and minimized at 532 nm. Strong laser-induced optical and acoustic emissions were observed for the 266-and 1064-nm laser irradiations. The histology showed that thermal denaturation of the tissue near the ablation walls decreased with decreasing wavelength for 266, 355, and 532 nm, but it was limited for 1064 nm. Conclusion: At the laser intensity of ∼2 GW/cm2, ablation characteristics were drastically changed for the different laser wavelengths. The results indicated that for 266, 355, and 532 nm, the tissue removal was achieved mainly through a photothermal process, but for 266 nm the intense laser-induced plasma formation would result in a reduced laser energy coupling to the tissue. For 1064 nm, a photodisruption was most probable as a dominant tissue removal process. Because of the high ablation rate and limited thermal denaturation, the 355- and 1064-nm lasers could be potential laser sources for TMLR, although further investigation is needed to discuss the clinical issues.
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