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New laser makes pacemaker wires easier to replace

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While awaiting surgery on Thursday, Kelly Hutmacher discovered she could claim a bit of history after learning the staff inside the United Hospital operating room in St. Paul would be performing the second procedure with a new pacemaker device.

"It's a little nerve-wracking, but I trust him," said Hutmacher.

The new device was used for the first time on Monday, and Dr. Pierce Vatterott believes the new tool, called the GlideLight Laser Sheath, is a "game changer."

"The new laser is twice as powerful as the previous ones," Vatterott said.

That means life will be a lot easier for any patient who needs pacemaker or defibrillator leads either removed or replaced -- and it's easier for any surgeon too because it can remove the leads with less trauma.

"You can let the laser do most of the work and it slides like a soda straw over the lead," explained Vatterott.

Pulling out wires can cause complications, but the new laser means surgeons don't have to pull or push as much, which is better for all those major blood vessels going into the patient's heart.

Defibrillators and pacemakers leads are replaced because they get infected or break, but the technology helps hundreds of Americans live longer.

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