Background: Excimer laser coronary angioplasty is reported to give excellent procedural results for treatment of complex coronary lesions, but this method has not been compared with balloon angioplasty in a randomised trial.
Methods: Patients (n = 308) with stable angina and coronary lesions longer than 10 mm on visual assessment were included. 151 patients (158 lesions) were assigned randomly to laser angioplasty and 157 (167 lesions) to balloon angioplasty. The primary clinical endpoints were death, myocardial infarction, coronary bypass surgery, or repeat coronary angioplasty of the randomised segment during 6 months of follow-up. The primary angiographic endpoint was the minimal lumen diameter at follow-up in relation to the baseline value (net gain), as determined by quantitative coronary angiography.
Findings: Laser angioplasty was followed by balloon angioplasty in 98% of procedures. The angiographic success rate was 80% in patients treated with laser angioplasty compared with 79% in patients treated with balloon angioplasty. There were no deaths. Myocardial infarction, coronary bypass surgery, and repeat angioplasty occurred in 4.6%, 10.6%, and 21.2%, respectively, of the patients in the laser angioplasty group compared with 5.7%, 10.8%, and 18.5% of the balloon angioplasty group. Net mean (SD) gain in minimal lumen diameter was 0.40 (0.69) mm in patients treated with laser angioplasty and 0.48 (0.66) mm in those treated with balloon angioplasty (p = 0.34). The restenosis rate (> 50% diameter stenosis) was 51.6% in the laser angioplasty group versus 41.3% in the balloon angioplasty group (p = 0.13).
Interpretation: Excimer laser angioplasty followed by balloon angioplasty provides no benefit additional to balloon angioplasty alone with respect to the initial and long-term clinical and angiographic outcome in the treatment of obstructive coronary artery disease.