The Effect of LLLT (Low Level Laser Therapy) Treatment on Wound Healing in Bottle Nose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)
Parques Reunidos Valencia S.A. L'Oceanogràfic
The use of soft laser light in the treatment of problematic wounds is well documented. Previous reports deal primarily with the effect of lasers on wound healing in experimentation animals, humans, as well as in some domestic species.
Skin wounds are not uncommon in captive cetaceans due to the high interaction within groups and sometimes as a consequence of improper husbandry (i.e., transport, nets, pool design, etc.). In these circumstances, most common topical treatments are not very useful due to the aquatic environment. Sometimes healing takes longer than expected and wounds can become infected, especially in cases of immunodepressed individuals or poor water quality. Certain wounds (i.e., rostrum) can interfere with some show behaviours, what can mean a logistical problem, especially in small dolphinaria.
The aim of the study is to evaluate the efficiency of LLLT in wound healing to reach faster healing with minor complications.
During the last three years, several cases of wounded bottle nose dolphins were studied at L'Oceanogràfic of Valencia in order to determine the potential use and effectiveness of this technique in this species. This study included both recent non infected uncomplicated injuries as well as infected torpid ones. Laser treatment (Biotesla IR-LASER, low/medium intensity diode infrared Laser radiation of 30 mW, 4500-5000Hz, 904nm) was performed through different protocols and during different periods. Evolution of wounds was evaluated during each treatment.
Preliminary results suggest that laser treated wounds have a tendency towards a better healing result in comparison to the topical treated and non-treated wounds.
Hence, monochromatic laser light may play a supportive role in the healing of skin wounds in dolphins, and potentially in other marine species such as penguins or sea turtles. Some interesting preliminary results were accomplished in these two groups too. A semi-quantitative histological method through the evaluation of tissue samples will be performed in the future in order to evaluate more accurately the laser effects on different kinds of wounds in different species.