Perilesional photobiomodulation therapy and physical rehabilitation in post-operative recovery of dogs surgically treated for thoracolumbar disk extrusion

BMC Vet Res. 2020 Apr 25;16(1):120. doi: 10.1186/s12917-020-02333-3.


Background: Recent studies have reported contrasting results of the effects of laser therapy on post-operative intervertebral disk herniation, with a lack of evidence-based advantages of this modality within a rehabilitation protocol. The aim of this study was to report the clinical effects of photobiomodulation therapy within a post-operative rehabilitation protocol in dogs submitted to surgery for thoracolumbar disk extrusion. Twenty-four dogs were included in the study (12 dogs treated with laser therapy and rehabilitation protocol and 12 dogs treated with same rehabilitation protocol but without laser therapy).

Results: All dogs treated with laser therapy showed improved neurological status (Modified Frankel Score more than 3 within 30 days of physiotherapy starting) if deep nociception on admission was maintained (P = 0.04). However, Kaplan-Meier analysis did not show any statistical difference in time to regain ambulatory ability, although there was a tendency for a shorter mean time of 14.2 ± 8.55 days in the laser group versus 24 ± 18.49 days in the no laser group.

Conclusions: The use of laser therapy in the post-operative rehabilitation of dogs affected by intervertebral disc extrusion and submitted to surgery for spinal decompression could help improve their neurological status.

Keywords: Dog; Intervertebral disk extrusion; Photobiomodulation; Rehabilitation therapy; Thoracolumbar spine.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Decompression, Surgical / veterinary
  • Dog Diseases / radiotherapy*
  • Dog Diseases / surgery
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Intervertebral Disc Degeneration / radiotherapy
  • Intervertebral Disc Degeneration / rehabilitation
  • Intervertebral Disc Degeneration / surgery
  • Intervertebral Disc Degeneration / veterinary*
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / radiotherapy
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / rehabilitation
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / surgery
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / veterinary*
  • Laser Therapy / veterinary*
  • Low-Level Light Therapy / veterinary*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae
  • Male
  • Postoperative Period
  • Thoracic Vertebrae

Supplementary concepts

  • Intervertebral disc disease