Lasers have been used for endoscopic gastrointestinal surgery at our institution since 1977. The argon and Nd-YAG lasers are valuable for coagulating upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage, arteriovenous malformations, and benign and malignant lesions, as well as a variety of anatomic anomalies. Between December 1977 and September 1983, 222 procedures were performed in 122 patients. Hospital charts were reviewed and a scale constructed to assess the results of treatment. When information was available, a comparison of transfusion requirements before and after laser therapy was made. Success was achieved in 84 percent of the patients regardless of initial diagnosis. Laser therapy was not effective in 12 patients (10 percent). In 27 patients with gastrointestinal atrioventricular malformations, transfusion requirements fell from a mean of 17 ± 5.9 units in the year before laser therapy to 1 ± 0.8 units in the year after laser phototherapy (p < 0.01). Complications rarely occurred (6 percent of all procedures). There were no perforations of the gastrointestinal tract and only one death (0.8 percent) partially attributable to laser application. Endoscopic laser surgery is minimally invasive and can be performed on an outpatient basis without anesthesia. It is especially valuable in patients with a high operative risk.
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