August 1997

Do Intact Viral Particles Survive Excimer Laser Ablation?

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Ophthalmology (Drs Taravella and May) and Pediatrics (Dr Weinberg and Mr Blackburn), University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver.

Arch Ophthalmol. 1997;115(8):1028-1030. doi:10.1001/archopht.1997.01100160198009

Objective:  To determine if intact and potentially infectious viral particles can withstand excimer laser ablation and possibly pose a health hazard to medical personnel.

Methods:  Excimer laser ablation of fibroblasts infected with attenuated varicella-zoster virus was performed. The laser plume was collected for polymerase chain reaction analysis and viral culture.

Results:  While viral DNA was detected in the material trapped from the laser plume, live virus could not be demonstrated to have survived ablation.

Conclusions:  Attenuated varicella-zoster virus does not seem to survive excimer laser ablation. However, we recommend the use of safety precautions such as wearing a mask during the procedure. Further research is necessary to determine if other viruses could possibly remain infectious despite exposure to excimer laser radiation.