Evaluation of Low-Level Laser Therapy in a Model of Cutaneous Wound Healing in Bearded Dragons (Pogona vitticeps)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2013
Kate Gustavsen1, PhD, DVM; Joanne Paul-Murphy1, DVM, DACZM, DACAW; Marilyn Koski1, DVM, CVA; Verena Affolter2, DVM, PhD, DECVP; Shin Ae Park3, DVM, PhD; Krista Keller4, DVM; Christopher Murphy3, DVM, PhD, DACVO
1Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, 2Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology, 3Department of Surgical and Radiological Sciences, and 4William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA, USA


Wounds are a common presenting complaint for reptiles, often requiring a prolonged course of treatment. Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) is gaining support as an adjunct treatment for wound management in human and veterinary medicine,1,3 but there have been no published studies in reptiles. A cutaneous wound healing model was developed in the bearded dragon (Pogona vitticeps) based on an existing murine model; in the reptile, quantification of healing by image analysis was challenging.2 In this study, 2 full-thickness 4 mm diameter punch biopsies were created on the dorsum of each animal, splinted with silicone rings to minimize dermal contraction, and bandaged with semi-occlusive dressing. In the LLLTa group (n=5), 1 wound on each animal received 4 Joules of 670 nm (red) light. In the control group (n=4), 1 wound received sham treatment. The remaining wound on all animals was untreated. Each wound was digitally imaged daily for 4 days. The inner wound margin was traced, and the wound area calculated.b Median change in wound area was 32% for sham-treated wounds and 21% for LLLT, but this difference was not significant in a 2-sample rank sum test.c Wounds were resected en bloc on day 4 and examined histologically. Unlike the murine model, the wound margins visible in gross images were not correlated with histologically identified epithelialization. Wound resection was feasible as a survival procedure, allowing histologic evaluation of epithelialization in this model of cutaneous wound healing in reptiles.


a. Luminex Ultra, Respond Systems Inc., Branford, CT, USA
b. ImageJ, US National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA
c. R: A language and environment for statistical computing; R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria


The authors thank Respond Systems Inc. for donating the laser unit used in this study.

Literature Cited

1.  Hopkins, J.T., T.A. McLoda, J.G. Seegmiller, and G.D. Baxter. 2004. Low-level laser therapy facilitates superficial wound healing in humans: a triple-blind, sham-controlled study. J. Athl. Training 39(3): 223–229.

2.  Keller, K.A., J.R. Paul-Murphy, E.S.P. Weber, P.H. Kass, D. Sanchez-Migallon Guzman, and C.J. Murphy. 2012. Development of a cutaneous wound healing model for evaluation of platelet-derived growth factor (Regranex®) in the bearded dragon (Pogona vitticeps). Proc. Am. Assoc. Zoo Vet. 2012: 55–56.

3.  Peplow, P.V., T.-Y. Chung, and G.D. Baxter. 2010. Laser photobiomodulation of wound healing: a review of experimental studies in mouse and rat animal models. Photomed. Laser Surg. 28(3): 291–325.


Speaker Information
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Kate A. Gustavsen, PhD, DVM
Department of Medicine and Epidemiology
School of Veterinary Medicine
University of California
Davis, CA, USA

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