I want to have my cat declawed. Can you give me information regarding the newest cat declawing procedure done with the surgical laser? I caught the end of a television segment about this and heard that bleeding and pain are at a minimum with the laser technique. Thanks.
The laser acts as a scalpel that removes the tissue from which the claw grows.
Using a laser to perform onychectomy, or declaw, in the cat has become popular in many areas due to the increased availability and improved cost of surgical lasers.
The laser energy results in sealing and coagulation of nerves and small blood vessels. This has the effect of decreasing blood loss, although this is generally minimal in standard declaw techniques. Laser techniques are also reported to result in less pain following the procedure. This does not mean the elimination of pain, however, and you should be sure that appropriate pain medications prescribed by your veterinarian are administered.
In a typical laser declaw procedure (laser onychectomy), after anesthetizing the cat, a bone called the third phalanx (one for each claw) is removed. The tissue from which a claw grows, called the ungual crest, is situated on top of each of these bones. By removing the third phalanges, the claw growth tissue is also removed, thus preventing claw regrowth.
A veterinarian experienced in laser surgery can perform the procedure relatively quickly, with few complications. However, excessive heating of the bone can occur if too much energy is applied or if the beam energy is applied too long. This can lead to infection and other complications. Thus the technique is not "fool-proof."
Overall, owners of cats that have undergone laser declaw, as well as many veterinarians performing the procedure, report better pain control in the initial postoperative period.
The main drawback to the procedure is the added cost, which may be considerably higher than conventional declaw procedures in some regions of the country. The older, established procedures are both safe and effective, but laser declaw techniques do appear to have some advantages if the cost is not a major obstacle.