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Evaluation of short-term limb function following unilateral carbon dioxide laser or scalpel onychectomy in cats

Duane A. Robinson DVM1, Cory W. Romans MS, DVM2, Wanda J. Gordon-Evans DVM, DACVS3, Richard B. Evans PhD4, and Michael G. Conzemius DVM, PhD, DACVS5
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  • 1 Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011.
  • | 2 Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011.
  • | 3 Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011.
  • | 4 Department of Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011.
  • | 5 Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011.

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate short-term postoperative forelimb function after scalpel and laser onychectomy in cats.

Design—Randomized, prospective study.

Animals—20 healthy adult cats.

Procedures—Cats were randomly assigned to the laser (n = 10) or scalpel (10) onychectomy group. Unilateral left forelimb onychectomy was performed. In the scalpel group, a tourniquet was used during surgery and a bandage was applied after surgery. Pressure platform gait analysis was performed prior to and 1, 2, 3, and 12 days after onychectomy. Peak vertical force (PVF), vertical impulse, and the ratio of the PVF of the left forelimb to the sum of the remaining limbs (PVF ratio) were used as outcome measures.

Results—The laser onychectomy group had significantly higher ground reaction forces on days 1 and 2 and significantly higher PVF ratio on day 12, compared with the scalpel group. Similarly, significant differences were found in change in ground reaction forces on days 1 and 2 and the PVF ratio on day 12, compared with day −1. No cats required rescue analgesia during the course of the study. One cat in the laser group had signs of depression and was reluctant to walk on day 2 after surgery, had physical examination findings consistent with cardiac insufficiency, and was euthanized.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Cats had improved limb function immediately after unilateral laser onychectomy, compared with onychectomy with a scalpel, tourniquet, and bandage. This improved limb function may result from decreased pain during the 48 hours following unilateral laser onychectomy.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Robinson's and Dr. Conzemius' present address is Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, MN 55108.

Dr. Romans' present address is Department of Clinical Science, College of Veterinary Medicine, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS 39762.

Supported by the Orthopaedic Research Laboratory, Iowa State University.

Presented at the 32nd Annual Conference of the Veterinary Orthopedic Society, Snowmass, Colo, March 2005 and the 15th American College of Veterinary Surgeons Symposium, San Diego, Calif, October 2005.

The authors thank Janan Abed, Tressa Meyer, and Brian Zelle for assistance with collection of gait data.

Address correspondence to Dr. Robinson.