Laser lead extraction is a method of removing worn or infected pacemaker and defibrillator wires from patients’ hearts before implanting new ones. The lead, which passes through a major vein in the heart and attaches to the pacemaker or defibrillator, grows into the wall of the vein over time and becomes difficult to remove.
Laser lead extraction involves sliding a sheath over the lead containing a laser light that removes the fibrous growth holding the lead to the wall of the vein. The laser has very low-tissue penetration, so it effectively detaches the fibrous tissue directly around the lead, sparing injury to the surrounding vein. Once the lead is no longer attached to the vein wall, it may be pulled out with less risk of damage to the vein.