Achilles Tendon Penetration for Continuous 810 nm and Superpulsed 904 nm Lasers Before and After Ice Application: An In Situ Study on Healthy Young Adults

Photomed Laser Surg. 2017 Oct;35(10):567-575. doi: 10.1089/pho.2017.4269. Epub 2017 Jun 30.


Background and objective: There is a lack of knowledge about the influence tissue temperature may have on laser light penetration and tendon structure. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether penetration of laser energy in human Achilles tendons differed before and after ice pack application.

Materials and methods: The Achilles tendons (n = 54) from 27 healthy young adults were irradiated with two class 3B lasers (810 nm 200 mW continuous mode laser and a 904 nm 60 mW superpulsed mode laser). The optical energy penetrating the Achilles area was measured before and after 20 min of ice application. Measurements were obtained after 30, 60, and 120 sec irradiation with the 904 nm laser and after 30 and 60 sec irradiation with the 810 nm laser. Achilles tendon thickness was measured with ultrasonography.

Results: Optical energy penetration increased significantly (p < 0.01) after ice application for both lasers and at all time points from 0.34% to 0.39% of energy before ice application to 0.43-0.52% of energy after ice application for the 904 nm laser and from 0.24% to 0.25% of energy before ice application to 0.30-0.31% of energy after ice application for the 810 nm laser. The energy loss per centimeter of irradiated tissue was significantly higher (p < 0.05) at all time points after ice application. Ultrasonography imaging of skin-to-skin and transversal tendon thickness was significantly reduced after ice application at p = 0.05 and p = 0.03, respectively. Achilles tendon thickness in the longitudinal plane remained unchanged (p = 0.49).

Conclusions: The penetration of laser light increased significantly through healthy Achilles tendons subjected to 20 min of cooling. These findings occurred in the presence of a significant reduction in skin temperature and Achilles tendon thickness.

Keywords: cryotherapy; humans; low-level laser therapy; photobiomodulation; tendons; thermography; ultrasonography.

MeSH terms

  • Achilles Tendon / diagnostic imaging
  • Achilles Tendon / radiation effects*
  • Cryotherapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Lasers, Semiconductor / therapeutic use*
  • Low-Level Light Therapy / methods*
  • Male
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Reference Values
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler
  • Young Adult