The laser, especially the neodymium:yttrium-aluminum-garnet device, has been a dominant influence on the development of gastrointestinal therapeutic endoscopy. More than 2,000 such procedures were performed in the first 5 years of experience with laser endoscopy at the Mayo Clinic. The major areas for future development are (1) the control of acute and chronic gastrointestinal bleeding, (2) the palliation of malignant gastrointestinal neoplasms, and (3) the management of benign and malignant obstructive lesions of the biliary tract. Refinements in laser devices, delivery systems, and techniques such as photodynamic therapy will be needed to achieve more selective tissue destruction. Improvements in the new adjunctive endoscopic methods of electronic (video) endoscopy and ultrasonography may enhance evolving laser applications by more accurately identifying diseased tissues and guiding their destruction.
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