Objective—To compare postoperative signs of discomfort and complications associated with use of CO2 laser for onychectomy with those of the scalpel technique in cats.
Design—Prospective, randomized, masked clinical trial.
Animals—20 client-owned cats.
Procedure—Forelimb feet (right, left) were randomly assigned to laser and scalpel treatment groups. Signs of discomfort (lameness and signs of pain) and complications (hemorrhage, swelling, and discharge) were assessed on days 0, 1, and 7. Surgeries were performed by 1 experienced surgeon. Evaluations were performed by 2 individuals without knowledge of treatment group. Signs of discomfort and complications were scored on scales of 0 to 8 and 0 to 9, respectively.
Results—Onychectomy did not result in high discomfort or complication scores 1 day after surgery, regardless of technique used, although the lasertreated group had significantly lower scores for signs of discomfort and complications. Seven days after surgery, significant differences were not detected between groups for signs of discomfort or complications.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The CO2 laser can be an excellent tool for onychectomy in cats, with excellent hemostasis and minimal postoperative discomfort and complications. Differences in discomfort and complications between groups treated via scalpel versus CO2 laser were not clinically relevant and were only observed 1 day after surgery. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2002;221:651–653)