• As recently as 1981, less than 12 medical centers in the United States were using lasers for the treatment of gastrointestinal (GI) disease. Now they are being used in more than 200 American medical centers and the number is increasing. There are several causes for this increase: (1) the applications for the treatment of GI disease have expanded; (2) they are relatively easy to use; (3) they can be cost-effective if the same laser can be used by more than one subspecialty; and (4) lasers may provide therapeutic options where limited ones previously existed. In the past six months, the Food and Drug Administration ruled that lasers were no longer classified as investigational devices for certain GI applications (eg, upper GI bleeding or obstructing esophageal neoplasms). Most importantly, in most instances, they have been safe and effective. With the technology related to lasers and endoscopes advancing so rapidly, an even greater use of lasers for the field of GI disease, In specific, and medicine, in general, can be anticipated.
(Arch Intern Med 1984;144:1225-1230)