Oklahoma State University has been pioneering a form of laser surgery for dogs experiencing back pain due to herniated disc disease. First used in 1993, the Center for Veterinary Health Sciences reviewed more than 300 cases to discover very high rate of success, according to a veterinarian working on the procedure. The university released the findings this month.
"Our success rate is 96.6 percent," explained Dr. Robert Bahr. "That means that out of all the dogs treated since the project began in 1993 (some 325 dogs total), only nine dogs (3.4 percent) have had repeat disc herniations."
Diseased discs in dogs (and people) can extrude or "herniate" from their normal location and put pressure on the spinal cord. The condition can lead to back pain, and if left untreated, can result in lameness, loss of bowel and bladder control, or even permanent paralysis.
Officials at OSU say their procedure can prevent this eventuality. While conventional back surgery involves painful cutting of the dog's back muscle, with a long recovery process, the laser surgery is done by inserting needles into the discs while the dog is under general anesthesia.
After X-rays confirm the needles are properly placed, a laser fiber is inserted through the needle, with the beam liquefying the disc material, forming scar tissue, which prevents the disc from herniating and injuring the spinal cord in the future.
Small dog breeds are the ones most likely to need treatment, according to OSU. These include:
" Shih Tzu,
" Lhasa Apso,
" Miniature Schnauzer,
" Miniature and Toy Poodle,
" Yorkshire Terrier and
" Cocker Spaniel.
Bahr said he sees patients from all over the country for the $1,500 procedure. For more information, visit http://www.cvhs.okstate.edu/. "Ben Fenwick