Dogs, Cats, and Other Animals Can Now
Benefit From Surgery by Laser
One of the newer developments in the world of veterinary medicine is laser surgery. The 21st century is going to see the use of this new procedure become more common, probably dramatically so in the next five years. Laser surgery can provide many advantages to your pets surgery including less bleeding and less pain and less swelling.
What is a Laser?
LASER is the acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission Radiation. There are many different kinds of lasers, but the CO2 laser is one of the most widely used medical lasers in the world, and the one found in many veterinary clinics. The CO2 laser produces an indivisible beam of light that can be used to cut or vaporize skin and soft tissues. The veterinarian generally uses the laser for the cutting portion of the surgery, rather than a scalpel blade: but the laser can also be used to ablate small warts or tumors. The great thing is that, because the laser has virtually no effect on the surrounding tissues, we can easily pinpoint the area on which we wish to operate. In addition to being very accurate without disturbing healthy tissue, the laser has many other attributes.
What are the Advantages?
Less Pain- Pain is markedly decreased the laser seals nerve ending as it cuts so there is less post-operative pain.
Less Bleeding- Bleeding is markedly reduced. The laser seals small blood vessels as it cuts so there is less bleeding during the surgery. This allows the surgeon to have a better view of the surgery site. Many times this will speed up the surgery; which means your pet is not under anesthesia as long.
Less Swelling- There is minimal swelling. The laser does not crush, tear, or bruise the tissue because only a beam of light is making contact with the tissues.
Reduced Risk of Infection- The laser sterilizes the tissues as it cuts. This kills the bacteria that cause infection.
Greater Precision- With only a beam of light making contact with tissue the surgeon has great precision. Tissue the width of a strand of hair can be removed without affecting the surrounding tissues.
What Procedures can be performed with a Laser?
Veterinarians around the world are using it for some of the more commonplace procedures, as well as the more dramatic surgeries we encounter. Any surgery that can be performed with a scalpel blade can be performed with the laser. The list of possible procedures that can benefit from the advent of the laser is growing every day. The following are procedures that especially benefit from laser surgery.
- Cat Declaw- This is one of the most frequent uses of the laser. This is a very painful procedure when a scalpel blade is used. With the laser cats have less pain and are up on their feet much faster, usually within a day.
- Tumor/ Wart Removals- Small tumors and warts can be burned off with just a local anesthetic. Older pets can have warts removed without the risk of general anesthesia.
- Spays and Neuters- As one of the most common surgeries performed with laser. The pain reduction is remarkable.
- Ear surgeries- Especially for those dogs with chronic ear infections that require reconstructive- type surgeries.
- Eye and Eyelid Surgeries
- Oral surgery
- Lick Granulomas among others
It will be interesting to see how this list grows over the next five to ten years. Of course, technology comes at a price. Currently, laser equipment is no yet cost efficient for most small veterinary facilities. Thus it tends to be found in larger offices with multiple practitioners. Over the next decade you may see some of the smaller hospitals consolidate, so they can take advantage of these types of technology advances. Generally the cost of the procedure done with laser is somewhat similar to the procedures done with conventional methods. When you weight the benefits to your pet, this money is well spent. Laser surgery is one of the true technological advances that will revolutionize how we care for our pets in the new millennium.