Immediate post-ablation problems have been minimal. Dogs are usually kept overnight after the procedure and discharged with
instructions to confine them to one floor of the home for two weeks. A few (< 1%) dogs have exhibited lumbar pain for five
to seven days, which is presumed to be of muscular origin from needle insertion. Depending on the results of the immediate
posttreatment examination, some animals are discharged with a short course (three to five days) of NSAID therapy if they exhibit
signs of postoperative discomfort.
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Nine dogs among the more than 350 animals (2.6%) that have undergone the procedure at Oklahoma State University over a 10-year
period (1995-2005) have had a recurrence of paraparesis or paralysis within six to 18 months that required surgical intervention
(decompressive hemilaminectomy), and all of the dogs recovered uneventfully. Since laser-tissue interaction involving degenerative
(calcified) intervertebral disks can't be predicted 100% nor can the precision of needle placement within the disks be guaranteed
to achieve total ablation, laser disk ablation is not guaranteed to be effective. Despite the nine recurrences, we think the
procedure is beneficial since, conceptually, it potentially reduces the amount of disk material left to herniate.
The information for "On the Forefront" was provided by Kenneth E. Bartels, DVM, MS, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences,
College of Veterinary Medicine, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078.