Ask the Vet - Laser Surgery
I’ve read a lot lately about laser surgery for people. Is this type of surgery used in pets as well?
One of the newer technological developments in the world of veterinary medicine is laser surgery. “Laser” is an acronym for Light Activation by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. We use concentrated light sources as a surgical tool.
Many different types of lasers have had applications in both human and veterinary medicine, with CO2 (carbon dioxide) being the most practical for treating dogs and cats. Simply stated, the energy created by the CO2 laser is absorbed by the water of the tissues we are using it on. It vaporizes this water, allowing us to remove the tissue that the laser has struck. 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. The laser has many other attributes as well:
- There is much less tissue trauma.
- Bleeding is markedly reduced.
- There is minimal swelling.
- Surgical time is greatly reduced.
- Pain is also markedly decreased.
Veterinarians around the country are using it for some of the more commonplace procedures as well as the more dramatic surgeries we encounter. Here is a short list of the types of procedures that may be familiar to you as a pet owner:
- Spays and neuters
- Ear surgeries
- Eye and eyelid surgeries
- Oral surgery
- Lump or tumor removals
If your veterinarian speaks to you about laser surgery, you can be comfortable that he or she is current on the latest advances in veterinary medicine. If your veterinarian has not reached that point, it is no reflection on his level of competence. Currently, there are only about 400 veterinarians (out of approximately 45,000 small animal practitioners) using lasers on a regular basis. That number will grow exponentially over the next few years, and we wanted you to hear about it here first.