Our exclusive interview with Dr. Edwards reveals how state-of-the-art surgical laser technology benefits veterinarians, pets, and pet owners alike
By Alex Vitruk, LSN Editor
Q: Good morning, Dr. Edwards: what CO2 laser do you have?
A: I have the Aesculight 30-watt, and I’ve had it for over four years now, it was my first laser. Minimal blood field, great for vascular areas around the eye, growth tumors, etc. It certainly simplifies everything…
Q: What’s the learning curve like?
A: It’s not very deep. Some techniques like growth tumor you can start doing right away, there’s no learning curve there (or minimal). Other more refined techniques – like cherry eye for example – take a bit more practice and experience to get down. Some procedures may seem difficult at first, but with a bit of practice nothing that the average veterinarian can’t learn… I purchased this laser at the WVC conference, and there I took a short course, and that certainly helped quite a bit. I would definitely recommend your labs and courses for those looking to learn about laser surgery.
Q: How often do you use your laser?
A: I use it every day! I would say that I average about 6-10 surgeries per week [single-doctor practice]. I use it almost every day, for all kinds of growth removal, eyelid procedures, etc. I utilize the SuperPulse functionality regularly as well [which helps minimize thermal damage]…
Q: Has it been a positive financial investment?
A: It has… and I do track it. It’s a line item… when I use the laser, I charge for it. Depending on the complexity of the procedure, the laser surgery fee would vary from $45 to $150 plus. I make sure to itemize out the revenue from laser surgery to make sure that I do make a profit with my machine. Not one complaint about laser fees. In fact, our clients want laser surgery! We even offer it on spays and neuters – an extra $45 – we get about 90% compliance on that.
Q: Why is the Flexible Fiber CO2 laser superior to the Articulated Arm CO2 laser?
A: First of all, I know that from a mechanical standpoint, the mirrors and the alignment inside the articulated arm make for a troublesome design. It’s also clumsier; it’s not as light, not as nimble as the flexible fiber. And, when I look at the books on laser surgery, when I look at all the studies and clinical procedures, they all feature a flexible waveguide…
When I was first starting out, I had done a lot of research and had a lot of documents to look at to base my decision…
Q: How does the CO2 laser compare to Radiosurgery?
A: Four years ago when I was looking for surgical equipment, I looked at both the CO2 laser and radiosurgery. I actually took both courses… after using both, as a beginner, I just felt that the laser was much more versatile! There’s a lot more things you can do with it. There’s also less tissue trauma with CO2 laser. Even though it was a bigger investment, I knew that it was more useful… it has more applications; for example, procedures in the mouth, oral gingival hyperplasia, etc… how you use the laser really depends on what you want out of a surgery. Sometimes you can use it as far you need it, and then switch to the blade… It’s applicable to just about every surgery, too.
Q: How do you like your new Tipless Handpiece?
A: I really like it. With the tips, you can use them a couple of times. Each time after, they don’t seem to cut as well… the thing I like about the Tipless is that it’s like having a new tip every time. I think it’s actually better than a new tip, personally… the power density seems to be greater. I also find that I’m using the 0.25 mm tip more frequently and I’m electing to change spot sizes back and forth. I find that the 0.25 mm is better for some surgeries
that I used to do with the 0.4 mm. I find I have more control and more options with the tipless handpiece. It is profitable from a worth point of view, minimizing the expenses of taking care of tips, cleaning and sterilizing them, etc. In this way, like the laser, it is also a profitable investment.
Q: How useful is Aesculight’s Built-in Clinical Library?
A: My Aesculight didn’t have the clinical library when I bought it four years ago. My laser was recently upgraded, so I have it now… but if I had it then, I definitely would have found it useful. Actually, I had the book that came with the laser [the laser surgery compendium, based on the library] and I definitely found that useful!
Dr. Edwards can be reached at:
Green River Veterinary Hospital
4212 Auburn Way North
Auburn, WA 98002
Phone: (253) 854-4414
Fax: (253) 277-1295