Laser Therapy Case Reports - Part 1
In Part V, I mentioned a few of my clinical cases that I would be discussing in future articles. I would like to start with one of the most common orthopedic injuries in the dog, the Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) injury of the stifle (knee) joint. The CCL injury in the dog closely resembles the ACL injury in humans and often requires surgical intervention to stabilize the joint, control the pain and improve mobility for the patient. Frequently, the associated pain and lameness following the injury is so severe, that without surgery, it can become quite debilitating.
Today, with the introduction of the therapeutic laser, there is another option to help patients with a partial tear of the ligament, stimulating the tissue to repair itself, thus preventing the tear from progressing to a complete rupture. If this happens, the laser can still be used to decrease surgical pain and swelling, as well as to stimulate faster healing of the tissue.
In this article, I'll be discussing both of these scenarios with the same patient, a high energy, nine year old female Black Lab named Shadow. Shadow lives with an equally energetic yellow lab, Dawn, and their owner, Susan. Shadow first sustained an injury to her left knee, a partially-torn CCL two years ago. Laser therapy was not available for use with her as our practice was only in the early stage of investigating the safety and value of this new technology. She was put on leash-restricted exercise and Rimadyl, an anti-inflammatory medication, but approximately two months later she re-injured the leg, only this time she completely ruptured the ligament, creating joint instability which required surgery. In December of 2008, I took Shadow to surgery to stabilize her joint.
Despite Susan's and my best attempts to keep Shadow restricted and calm with low doses of a sedative, she slipped four weeks post-op before the leg was fully healed and created a minor set-back to her healing. Eight months later, after another slip, she injured both of her knees. Luckily, the "artificial ligament" in the left knee did not fail, which would have required another procedure to replace it; but she did suffer moderately severe soft tissue damage surrounding the joint that would have normally taken weeks to months to heal. She also had swelling and a minor partial-tear of the CCL of her right knee. The Kenosha Animal Hospital had just purchased the Companion Therapeutic Laser, so I immediately started treatment with the laser on both of her knees. We were impressed by how smooth and fast her recovery was from her injuries. I recently examined Shadow and found her to be healthy and completely free of any lameness. As a result of her laser therapy, both of her knees are now fully healed.
Next month, I will introduce you to a few more of the many dogs with CCL injuries that I've had excellent results using the therapeutic laser.
William T. Carlisle, DVM