Laser Surgery

  • Epiglottic Entrapment
  • Ventriculocordectomy
  • Upper Respiratory Masses
  • Endometrial Cyst Ablation

The acronym “LASER” stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Highly simplified, lasers create a focused, high-energy beam of electromagnetic radiation (light or “photons”). The source of the highly energized electrons (photons) is referred to as the medium. Most lasers are named after their medium. Examples of lasers with medical applications include carbon dioxide or CO2, argon, erbium, excimer lasers, Nd:YAG, diode lasers, and pulsed dye lasers.

Each has advantages or disadvantages relative to the others in terms of its capabilities as a surgical tool. The specific wavelength of light that each laser produces is one of the most important determinants of its applications and limitations

Our laser is an Nd:YAG laser, or neodymium:yttrium aluminum garnet laser. The major advantages of this laser are the ability to transmit the laser beam through a flexible quartz fiber, as well as its interaction with tissues. The beam passes freely through water, but is strongly absorbed by the pigments hemoglobin (in blood) and melanin (skin pigment). It penetrates relatively deeply and has good hemostatic capability (the ability to coagulate blood vessels). Because the beam can be transmitted through a flexible fiber it can be used in conjunction with an endoscope – transendoscopic laser surgery – by passing the fiber down the biopsy channel of the endoscope. The most common applications in equine surgery involve conditions of the upper respiratory tract. For example: epiglottic entrapment, ventriculocordectomy (“vocal cord” removal), excision or ablation of subepiglottic cysts, and photoablation or excision of masses in the upper respiratory tract. The majority of these procedures can be performed on an outpatient basis with horses under sedation and using topical anesthesia (rather than general anesthesia). Lasers are also used transendoscopically to treat conditions of the urogenital tract. Other applications include skin tumor ablation/excision, as a scalpel to create an incision with simultaneous hemostasis (control of bleeding), during laparoscopic surgical procedures, and ophthalmologic surgery.