An investigation into the depth of penetration of low level laser therapy through the equine tendon in vivo

Ir Vet J. 2007 May 1;60(5):295-9. doi: 10.1186/2046-0481-60-5-295.


Low level laser therapy (LLLT) is frequently used in the treatment of wounds, soft tissue injury and in pain management. The exact penetration depth of LLLT in human tissue remains unspecified. Similar uncertainty regarding penetration depth arises in treating animals. This study was designed to test the hypothesis that transmission of LLLT in horses is increased by clipping the hair and/or by cleaning the area to be treated with alcohol, but is unaffected by coat colour. A LLLT probe (810 nm, 500 mW) was applied to the medial aspect of the superficial flexor tendon of seventeen equine forelimbs in vivo. A light sensor was applied to the lateral aspect, directly opposite the laser probe to measure the amount of light transmitted. Light transmission was not affected by individual horse, coat colour or leg. However, it was associated with leg condition (F = 4.42, p = 0.0032). Tendons clipped dry and clipped and cleaned with alcohol, were both associated with greater transmission of light than the unprepared state. Use of alcohol without clipping was not associated with an increase in light transmission. These results suggest that, when applying laser to a subcutaneous structure in the horse, the area should be clipped and cleaned beforehand.