Diode Laser Surgery and Its Application in Birds
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2001

Stephen J. Hernandez-Divers1, BSc (Hons), BVetMed, DZooMed (Reptilian), CBiol MIBiol, MRCVS; Scott Stahl2, DVM, ABVP-Avian

1Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Consultant in Zoo & Wildlife Medicine (Reptiles), Ithaca, NY, USA; 2Eastern Exotics Center, Fairfax, VA, USA


Since Albert Einstein theorized the concept of lasers in 1916, considerable development has resulted in an array of equipment available to the human and veterinary surgeon. The term LASER stands for Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation and relies upon the production of electromagnetic radiation in response to photon emission by the lasing medium.1 The characteristics of a laser are directly attributed to the lasing medium, be that CO2, helium, argon, gold, ruby, or gallium aluminum arsenide (GaAIAs). The use of lasers in avian surgery, while not commonplace, is certainly gaining in popularity with various publications describing and supporting their use.2

A class IV GaAIAs diode laser creates a wavelength in the range of 790–830 nm which is transmitted from laser base unit to surgical site by a solid quartz-core, fiber-optic cable. A visible light beam is combined with the invisible laser beam to facilitate aiming. Laser fibers come in a variety of sizes (400–1000 mm) and shapes, including flat, conical and orb. Operator safety requires all personnel to wear protective glasses.

One of the advantages of the diode laser is the ability to use 400 mm fibers through rigid and flexible endoscopes, or in hand-pieces for open surgery. The Diomed Surgical Diode Lasers and fibers (Diomed Inc., Andover, MA, USA) appear to be compatible with the 2.7 mm telescope and protective 14F sheath with 5F instrument channel (64018BS, 67065CC; Karl Storz Veterinary Endoscopy America, Goleta, CA, USA).

Previous reports have described the use of diode lasers for ablating renal masses and gonads, and coagulating the infundibulum/oviduct to prevent reproductive activity.3,4 In addition, lasers have been used to excise cutaneous masses and ablate small air sac granulomas. The endosurgical vaporization of bacterial and mycotic granulomas attached to the ventrolateral aspect of the lung or the air sacs was accomplished using a 400 mm fiber on a power setting of 3.5–6.5 watts. Where such granulomas are in close association with vital structures or large vessels, a pulsed power setting of 0.1 second and interpulse interval of 0.2 second helped reduce collateral heating and tissue damage.


The authors would like to thank the staff at the Exotic Animal Centre (UK) and the Eastern Exotic Center (USA) for their assistance. Thanks also to Linda Madsen (Diomed Inc.), Robert Young (Vet Alliance) and Chris Chamness (Karl Storz Veterinary Endoscopy Inc) for their technical support.

Literature Cited

1.  Klause, S.E., and S.M. Roberts. 1990. Lasers and veterinary surgery. Compend Contin Educ Pract Vet. 12(11):1565–1571, 1574–1576.

2.  Polanyi, T.G. 1978. Physics of the surgical laser. Adv Surg Oncol. 1:205–215.

3.  Parrott-Nenezian, T. 2000. Using the Diode Laser in Avian Endoscopic Surgery. Proceedings of the 21st Annual Conference of the Association of Avian Veterinarians, Portland, Oregon. Pp. 249–251.

4.  Bennett, R.A., and G.J. Harrison. 1994. Soft tissue surgery. In: Ritchie, B.W., G.J. Harrison, and L.R. Harrison, (eds.) Avian Medicine: Principles and Application. Wingers, Lake Worth, Florida. Pp. 1097–1136.


Speaker Information
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Stephen J. Hernandez-Divers, BSc (Hons), BVetMed, DZooMed (Reptilian), CBiol, MIBiol, MRCVS
Consultant in Zoo & Wildlife Medicine (Reptiles)
Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
Ithaca, NY, USA

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