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Thermal cautery of the cornea to treat spontaneous defects in horses and dogs
Spontaneous chronic corneal epithelial defects (SCCEDs) are a common problem in middle-aged and older animals of various species. Many different therapies are recommended. Is this special thermal cautery technique a good choice? At least it should be tried before more invasive methods like superficial keratectomy are used...

A thermal cautery technique was used to treat spontaneous chronic corneal epithelial defects (SCCEDs) in 9 eyes of 8 dogs and 2 eyes of 2 horses.

Animals were sedated, and a topical anesthetic was applied.

A handheld thermal cautery unit was then used to make multiple, small (< or = 1 mm in diameter), superficial burns throughout the affected area. The cautery unit was applied just until the slightest degree of contraction of the collagen fibrils was observed.

After the stromal bed of the defect was treated, a rim of epithelium that extended approximately 1 mm around the denuded stroma was also subjected to thermal cautery.

Following surgery, a contact lens was placed in dogs but not in horses, and the eye was treated with broad-spectrum antimicrobial ophthalmic solutions.

Defects in all 11 eyes healed with minimal scarring; mean time to healing in dogs was 2.1 weeks (range, 2 to 3 weeks).

The defect healed in 1 week in 1 horse and in 2 weeks in the other.

Many therapeutic options are available for the treatment of SCCEDs.
Procedures such as epithelial debridement and anterior stromal puncture have been shown to have a high rate of success.

In cases for which these less invasive procedures fail, our results suggest that thermal cautery may be a reasonable alternative to previously described treatments for SCCEDs in dogs and horses prior to more invasive procedures such as superficial keratectomy.



Source: Bentley E, Murphy CJ. (2004): Thermal cautery of the cornea for treatment of spontaneous chronic corneal epithelial defects in dogs and horses. In: J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2004 Jan 15;224(2):250-3, 224


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