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Blood Vessel Laser Scanner Gets U.S. Government Approval

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After its initial submission for approval more than two years ago, a cardiac catheter using a laser to scan for the best place to implant a stent has received U.S. government approval, the New York Times reports.

The LipiScan laser catheter, made by InfraReDx of Burlington, Mass., will be able to show images of arterial walls and help doctors keep from placing coronary stents in arteries that could actually cause a heart attack, the newspaper reports.

Stents are thin, metal mesh tubes placed in a blocked blood vessel -- usually an artery -- in a procedure called angioplasty that opens up the artery, providing better blood flow. One of the problems in stent implanting, the Times reports, is that an improperly placed stent could cause the rupturing of vessel walls called lipid pools. When a lipid pool ruptures, a heart attack is likely to occur, the newspaper reports.

The LipiScan emits a laser light that can give a clearer image of lipids in blood vessel walls, which should help surgeons determine where to place a stent or to decide whether angioplasty is actually necessary, the Times says.

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