Objective-To evaluate use of a diode laser to induce tendinopathy in the superficial digital flexor tendon (SDFT) of horses. Animals-4 equine cadavers and 5 adult horses. Procedures-Cadaveric SDFT samples were exposed to a diode laser at various energy settings to determine an appropriate energy for use in in vivo experiments; lesion size was assessed histologically. In vivo experiments involved laser energy induction of lesions in the SDFT (2 preliminary horses [0, 25, 75, and 87.5 J] and 3 study horses [0 and 125 J]) and assessment of lesions. Study duration was 21 days, and lesions were assessed clinically and via ultrasonography, MRI, and histologic evaluation. Results-Lesion induction in cadaveric tissues resulted in a spherical cavitated core with surrounding tissue coagulation. Lesion size had a linear relationship (R2 = 0.9) with the energy administered. Size of in vivo lesions in preliminary horses indicated that larger lesions were required. In study horses, lesions induced with 125 J were ultrasonographically and histologically larger than were control lesions. At proximal and distal locations, pooled (preliminary and study horses) ultrasonographically assessed lesions were discrete and variable in size (mean ± SEM lesion percentage for control lesions, 8.5 ± 3%; for laser lesions, 12.2 ± 1.7%). Ultrasonography and MRI measurements were associated (R2 > 0.84) with cross-sectional area measurements. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance-In vivo diode laser-induced lesions did not reflect cadaveric lesions in repeatable size. Further research is required before diode lasers can reliably be used for inducing tendinopathy.
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