Lasers have contributed in a significant way to the evolution of therapeutic endoscopy. Their ability to coagulate and ablate tissue precisely has been applied to a wide variety of lesions in the upper gastrointestinal tract. Meanwhile, the number of nonlaser devices has also continued to expand, making it necessary to frequently reassess their respective roles. Available evidence suggests that current laser equipment is best suited for the palliative ablation of tumors, especially in the esophagus. On the other hand, the hemostatic properties of the laser are still indicated in the control of vascular malformations but have been largely displaced in the management of peptic ulcer disease by other, more convenient and less expensive methods. With a new generation of laser equipment likely to be introduced soon, these comparisons will undoubtedly need to continue for some time.
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