Objective—To evaluate use of a diode laser to induce tendinopathy in the superficial digital flexor tendon (SDFT) of horses.
Animals—4 equine cadavers and 5 adult horses.
Procedures—Cadaveric SDFT samples were exposed to a diode laser at various energy settings to determine an appropriate energy for use in in vivo experiments; lesion size was assessed histologically. In vivo experiments involved laser energy induction of lesions in the SDFT (2 preliminary horses [0, 25, 75, and 87.5 J] and 3 study horses [0 and 125 J]) and assessment of lesions. Study duration was 21 days, and lesions were assessed clinically and via ultrasonography, MRI, and histologic evaluation.
Results—Lesion induction in cadaveric tissues resulted in a spherical cavitated core with surrounding tissue coagulation. Lesion size had a linear relationship (R2 = 0.9) with the energy administered. Size of in vivo lesions in preliminary horses indicated that larger lesions were required. In study horses, lesions induced with 125 J were ultrasonographically and histologically larger than were control lesions. At proximal and distal locations, pooled (preliminary and study horses) ultrasonographically assessed lesions were discrete and variable in size (mean ± SEM lesion percentage for control lesions, 8.5 ± 3%; for laser lesions, 12.2 ± 1.7%). Ultrasonography and MRI measurements were associated (R2 > 0.84) with cross-sectional area measurements.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—In vivo diode laser–induced lesions did not reflect cadaveric lesions in repeatable size. Further research is required before diode lasers can reliably be used for inducing tendinopathy.