Frye Offers Laser Lead Removal 
Wednesday, 17 September 2008 
Mark D. Hennington, MD 
Frye encourages patients with pacemakers and defibrillators to learn more about lead management options.


Frye Regional Medical Center is pleased to announce that the hospital is now offering patients laser assisted cardiac lead removal. Frye Regional Medical Center is first in the greater Hickory area to offer this lead management technique.            

Management of implanted leads for pacemakers and defibrillators is a growing concern among physicians and patients. Leads, or insulated wires that connect devices to the heart, may become non-functional or infected. When this occurs, lead removal is often necessary.  Because scar tissue can bind the lead in several places along its length, specialized tools are needed to complete the removal process.            

More than two million Americans rely on a pacemaker or defibrillator to regulate their heart beat. The cumulative risk of infection increases with every pacemaker or defibrillator replacement. According to the American Heart Association, of those patients with defibrillators, as many as 20 percent can expect a lead malfunction within 10 years of receiving their device. Following clinical trials in the United States and Europe, physicians have become increasingly proactive in removing malfunctioning leads during device implantation, upgrades and battery replacement to minimize the amount of hardware traditionally abandoned and susceptible to future problems.              

“It is important that patients with implanted cardiac devices are aware of the lead management options that exist,” said Dr. Mark Hennington, a cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon on staff at Frye. “Frye is consistently focused on providing the highest-quality patient care and is demonstrating this commitment by offering patients a minimally-invasive lead removal technique. Frye is the only hospital in the greater Hickory area to offer this approach.”            

Frye Regional Medical Center is using Spectranetics’ excimer laser system for cardiac lead removal. The technology from Spectranetics provides physicians with an efficient means to safely remove chronically implanted pacemaker and defibrillation leads. Spectranetics’ excimer or “cool” laser produces pulsed bursts of ultraviolet (UV) light energy to gently dissolve binding scar tissue into tiny particles that are easily absorbed into the blood stream. Once the scar tissue is dissolved, the lead can be easily removed.