Professor Researches Equine Dental Surgery in Switzerland
February 7, 2007
Elizabeth Boulton, associate professor in the department of
animal and nutritional sciences, received a 2006-07 CIE Faculty
International Travel grant funded by the VPAA.
Boulton traveled to Switzerland in January to conduct research
on the potential for laser equine dental surgery. Below is
“I am extremely grateful to the Center for International
Education for supporting my travel to the Musculoskeletal Research
Unit (MSRU) of the Pferdeklinik der Vetsuisse (Equine Veterinary
Clinic) University of Zurich, Switzerland.
During my fall sabbatical, I had the opportunity to collaborate
with Dr. Katja Nuss, MSRU, Dr. Stefan Stubinger, Clinic for
Reconstructive Surgery, University of Basel and Dr. Anton Furst,
Diplomate of the ECVS (European College of Veterinary Surgeons)
Pferdeklinik der Vetsuisse on a project examining the feasibility
of utilizing either a piezoelectric scalpel or an erbium YAG
laser in equine maxillofacial and dental surgery.
Maxillary and frontal sinus osteotomies (bone flaps) were
surgically created either with an oscillating bone saw, osteotome
(chisel) or piezoelectric scalpel. Surgical times, precision
and ease were recorded for comparison of techniques. Osteotomies
were grossly evaluated for cut edge irregularities, fractures,
carbonization and tissue damage. Portions of the osteotomies
were placed in 50% alcohol and fuchsin stain for further histologic
The purpose of my recent trip was to perform the same types
of osteotomies and evaluations using an erbium YAG laser. An
erbium YAG laser had previously successfully been used to create
transverse osteotomies in sheep tibias (Nuss,et al, abstract
submitted Nov 2006 to the ECVS). We hypothesized that osteotomies
performed with either the piezoelectric scalpel or erbium YAG
laser would be superior to the oscillating bone saw and osteotome.
However, we experienced technical difficulties using the erbium
YAG laser that were not experienced during the experimental
transverse tibia osteotomy in sheep. We attempted to use the
erbium YAG laser in a similar noncontact mode at 111mJ and
15 Hz. We destroyed 3 mirrors without completing one osteotomy.
So, we changed to a contact fiber head at 600 mJ and 15 Hz
but the power was insufficient to cut equine bone. We hypothesized
at this point either that the laser was malfunctioning, equine
bone density is different than sheep or freezing and thawing
equine cadaver skulls changed the bone characteristics.
We were unable to successfully perform frontal and maxillary
osteotomies on the equine cadaver skulls with the erbium YAG
laser. The laser was returned to the manufacturer for evaluation.
Depending upon the manufacturer’s assessment of the laser
and noncontact head, we plan to repeat the experiment either
late spring or summer. At that point, histology slides from
the piezoelectric scalpel, oscillating bone saw and osteotome
will be ready for microscopic evaluation.
Again, I thank the CIE for your support. Although I was frustrated
and disappointed with the results from my last visit, I am
excited and encouraged to return to the MSRU, Pferdeklinik
Vetsuisse at the University of Zurich to continue collaboration
with international colleagues.”
For more information visit http://www.unh.edu/cie/faculty/faculty_travelrpts_index.html
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