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August 09, 2001

Debbie Neufert
Media Relations, LHSC
519-685-8500, ext. 74772

London Health Sciences Centre first Ontario Hospital to offer laser procedure for pacemaker patients

(LONDON, Ontario) - London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) has been chosen as the first Ontario hospital to provide a new procedure to help people with pacemakers. Until now, Ontario patients with pacemaker lead complications had to travel to Cleveland, Ohio, British Columbia, or Montreal for a procedure called Laser Lead Extraction.

Leads are wires that run from the heart to the pacemaker to monitor if the heart is beating correctly. If the pacemaker detects a slower heart beat, it sends an electrical charge through the lead to the heart in order to regulate the heart beat. Although not a common problem, these leads are subject to wear and tear, and can break down and even become infected. When that happens, the leads need to be removed and replaced immediately.

In most cases, the lead has become entangled in scar tissue making it difficult to extract. The benefit of laser lead extraction is that the laser cuts away all the tissue surrounding the lead, making for a much more effective, safer and smoother extraction than previous methods. The laser also allows doctors to get to more difficult leads which could not have been removed before.

Dr. Andrew Krahn, LHSC Arrhythmia Cardiologist, who performed the first laser lead extraction in Ontario, says, "We are excited about the fact that LHSC was successful in bringing this to Ontario, and that we are the first hospital in the province to offer laser lead extraction. For the patients, it means they no longer have to travel a long distance out of province for help."

Laser Lead Extraction at LHSC is part of a two-year pilot project funded by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.