Laser Surgery and Therapy
Lasers may be used for surgical purposes (cutting) as well as wound healing (low-level or "cold" laser). We utilize both types of Class IIIb lasers at Memorial-610 Hospital for Animals.
LASER (Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation) surgery uses a focused and intense beam of light to cut the tissues. Lasers differ from each other by the wavelength(s) of light they produce. The most commonly used surgical laser in soft tissue surgery is the Carbon Dioxide (CO2) laser. The CO2 laser wavelength (10.6 micrometers) is highly absorbed by water contained in the soft tissues of the body. This type of laser does not produce a visible beam of light, but rather an infrared beam capable of separating the tissues as a cutting device. Water absorbs the CO2 laser beam, causing it to vaporize and the soft tissue cells along the beam vaporize along with it.
Benefits to the patient are:
Less Bleeding: As it cuts, the laser seals the small blood vessels. This reduction in bleeding enables a number of new surgical procedures that are not practical with conventional scalpel blade.
Less Pain: The CO2 laser beam seals the nerve endings and lymphatic vessels, resulting in less edema and pain. The veterinary patient experiences a far more comfortable post-operative recovery.
Reduced risk of infection: The laser beam efficiently kills bacteria in its path, producing a sterilizing effect.
Quicker recovery time: Reduced risk of infection, less bleeding, less pain and less swelling will often allow the patient a speedy recovery after the surgery.
Low-Level Laser (Cold) Therapy (LLLT):
Laser wavelengths between 820 nanometers (nm) and 840 nm have an extremely low absorption rates in soft tissue. This allows the laser light to penetrate deeply at those frequencies. Experimenting clinicians found that an 830 nm laser with an output of between 60 milliwatts (mW) – 90 mW of power was optimal for treating chronic pain. We utilize an 830 nm laser in our hospital for this reason.
An example of how LLLT works involves soft tissue trauma. These types of injuries consist of damage to the deep, sensitive layers of tissue beneath the skin (epidermis), including muscular, nervous, lymphatic, and vascular tissues. The body normally reacts to this soft tissue trauma by surrounding the injury with edema, a thin or watery fluid in tissue spaces or cell interstices. However, excess edema causes swelling that inhibits movement of the damaged tissues. These injuries result in two types of pain: actual traumatic pain from the injury itself, and pain is from the swelling that results. LLLT provides relief in two ways: it focuses first on the lymphatic system, which maintains the body’s fluid balance, while the laser light also helps absorb the excess edema.