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Laser is the abbreviation for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission Radiation. The amplified light of laser is caused by energizing molecules to emit light at a certain wavelength.
There exist many different kinds of lasers, each of which creates a specific tissue reaction depending on the wavelength. The carbon dioxide (CO2) laser is one of the most widely used medical laser in the world. CO2 lasers deliver an intense beam of infrared light with 10,600 nano-meters wavelength. This specific wavelength has an great effect in soft tissue.
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Timothy L. Holt, DVM and Fred A Mann, DVM, MS
"The carbon dioxide laser is a very effective tool for treating diseases of the perianal region. The skin of the perianal region is thin and sensitive. The carbon dioxide laser offers a ‘no touch’ method of excising these lesions, which helps decrease postoperative discomfort and irritation. The carbon dioxide laser is very effective in controlling hemorrhage from vessels smaller than 0.5 mm. This is sufficient in controlling most hemorrhage caused from the rich blood supply of the perianal region. The perianal region is contaminated with bacteria. The carbon dioxide laser photothermally vaporizes bacteria, so that bacterial numbers are decreased, which helps reduce the risk of postoperative infections. These factors help the patient recover quicker and return to function sooner. Veterinary Laser-appropriate Opthamology Surgery The light emitted from a carbon dioxide laser has a wavelength of 10,600 nm, which is in the far-infrared light spectrum. This wavelength of light is highly absorbed by water, creating a thermal effect. Because all soft tissues in the body are composed mainly of water, the carbon dioxide laser penetrates very shallow into tissue, and there is very little collateral thermal damage. This interaction makes the carbon dioxide laser a useful tool for incising, excising, and photoablating soft tissue and allows for fine, controlled dissection of tissue. The axiom of ‘what you see is what you get’ applies to the properties of the carbon dioxide laser. Finally, the carbon dioxide laser seems to have a lower learning curve when compared with other types of lasers."
Bert A. Shelley, DVM, MS
Vet Clin Small Anim 32 (2002) 621-637, Elsevier Science (USA)
"The CO2 laser does have a valuable role for vaporization of eyelid masses, particularly when located adjacent to the medial canthus making scalpel excision and closure difficult; for treating diffuse eyelid papillomatosis; and for safely extending surgical margins after excision or debulking of neoplasms, such as fibrosarcoma and squamous cell carcinomaof the eyelid, limbus, or nictitans."
Margi A. Gilmour, DVM, ACVO
Vet Clin Small Anim 32 (2002) 649-672. Elsevier Science, (USA)
"Carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers are used in oral surgery for precisely cutting or vaporizing soft tissue with hemostasis. CO2 lasers intended for dental applications are CW lasers. The CO2 wavelength is absorbed by the water content of oral tissues. Thermal necrosis zones of 100 to 300 lm at cut tissue edges are typical, providing better oral structure safety compared with other lasers (neodymium:yttrium aluminum garnet [Nd:YAG], argon, and diode), which may penetrate up to several millimeters. With the CO2 laser, ‘what you see is what you get’ compared with the Nd:YAG laser where no immediately visible change appears in the tissue surrounding the zone of vaporization. With the Nd:YAG laser, it is difficult to estimate the true extend of thermal necrosis. This advantage of replacing traditional excisional techniques with CO2 laser ablation permits removal of the damaged epithelium with as little as 0.1 to 0.2 mm of reversible thermal injury to the submucosa. CO2 lasers are used for oral, soft tissue procedures, such as gingivectomy, gingivoplasty, frenectomy, and biopsy. Tissue vaporization is more efficient with the CO2 laser than with other lasers discussed because of the direct absorption of this wavelength by water."
Jan Bellows, DVM
Vet Clin Small Anim 32 (2002) 673-692. Elsevier Science, (USA)
"The CO2 laser proved to be an excellent choice for laser surgery because of the ability to limit the zones of damage to microsurgery with little to no collateral damage. This laser is the primary laser in use today in veterinary dermatology. The operator can easily control the device for use in three ways: skin incision, lesion excision, and ablation. It can be readily controlled for precise microsurgery or can be used for ablating larger lesions. Because of its high absorption by water, there is little to no collateral tissue damage with this laser when used properly. ...the ability for the operator to control the effect of the laser beam essentially to the area that you can see with no collateral damage, has led to wide use of this laser in many areas of medicine, including veterinary dermatology ..."
David Duclos, DVM
Vet Clin Small Anim 36 (2006) 15-37, Elsevier Science (USA)
"There are many benefits of the CO2 laser in exotic animal practice. Their use is limited only by the imagination... The benefits of carbon dioxide (CO2) laser use in exotics include decreased blood loss, pain, surgery time, and healing time. Because the CO2 laser seals small vessels as it cuts, there is a decreased blood loss, which is of great benefit because many of the exotic species are quite small and therefore have a small blood volume. The use of CO2 lasers for surgery also decreases pain because they seal nerve endings as they cut, which may also decrease self-induced trauma after surgery. Decreased pain may also lessen postsurgical fear and anxiety. Lasers make surgery safer and provide a quicker recovery period. Ablation of cutaneous masses is simplified, with minimal loss of blood. Many exotics develop a capsule surrounding an abscess. If this capsule is not removed or is only partially removed, there is a high recurrence rate. The CO2 laser allows for the ablation of the capsule."