Laser Surgery

What is a Laser and how does it work?

LASER stands for ‘Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission Radiation’. It is a device that creates a beam of light energy at a specific wavelength. In veterinary medicine, the most commonly used laser is the CO2 laser. The wavelength of this laser means it is absorbed by water found in the skin and soft tissue, causing the cells to vaporize and this action causes the tissue to be cut. The extent in which the laser is absorbed into the animal’s tissue can be controlled, allowing extreme surgical precision.

What are the benefits of laser surgery for my pet?

There are three major advantages of laser surgery over traditional stainless steel surgical scalpels, decreased pain, reduced bleeding and blood loss and reduced risk of infection.

Decreased pain is accomplished because the laser seals the nerve endings as it cuts. Reduced bleeding and blood loss is achieved through cauterization (burning) of blood vessels as the laser beam vaporizes the tissues.

Superheating of the tissues in the incision site reduces the risk of surgical infection occurring as it destroys any bacteria that are present at the time of surgery.

What surgeries can be performed with the laser?

Almost any soft-tissue surgery may be performed with the CO2 laser. Routine procedures such as ovariohysterectomy (spay) and castration (neutering) are commonly done with the laser. The CO2 laser can also be used for skin tumour removal, eyelid surgery and some mouth and throat procedures. Your vet will discuss whether CO2 laser is appropriate for use during your pet’s surgery.

By Gordon Roberts

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