Although the major initial application for endoscopic laser therapy was for the management of gastrointestinal hemorrhage, it is now more common to use the laser endoscopically for the treatment of gastrointestinal neoplasms. A major body of literature surrounds the use of endoscopic laser therapy for esophageal cancer. The initial patient evaluation to determine if laser therapy is indicated includes a contrast radiograph, a screening endoscopy, and an imaging study. After these tests have been performed, it can be determined whether endoscopic laser therapy (ELT) is the best of the many endoscopic options. There is some difference of opinion as to the specifics of the treatment technique, and these are described. There is general agreement from reviewing the clinical data that it is possible to open the obstructed lumen in a large majority of cases and that functional success (the ability to achieve technically good results as well as clinical improvement without complications) is also possible in the majority of patients. Despite the information suggesting the benefits of ELT for esophageal cancer, there are both conceptual and technical limitations to the current approach to therapy. These limitations as well as potential future applications are discussed.
- endoscopic therapy
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