What Advantages Does The VetScalpel CO2 Surgical Laser Have Over Competitor Laser Systems?

Delivery System Ergonomics

The VetScalpel laser allows you to focus on the clinical aspects of surgery and forget about the laser itself, simply because the laser is easy to use, readily maneuverable and its flexible fiber and tipless handpiece provide a natural ‘scalpel-like’ feel.

Also worth noting is VetScalpel’s fast return on investment, versatility for all soft-tissue procedures, and praised longevity.

Articulated arm CO2 lasers are more expensive and have fewer applications in veterinary procedures, as they provide limited access.

surgical laser 5 tip-to-tissue distance

VetScalpel CO2 Laser Delivery Systems

Flexible Fiber Delivery System

VetScalpel lasers feature a convenient, reliable, and easy-to-use flexible fiber, which is far more user-friendly than the articulated arm technology of the 1970s (still found on many foreign-made systems, due to lack of technical knowledge and the proprietary nature of fiber technology).

The Luxar Corporation developed the flexible fiber waveguide in the 1990s. VetScalpel improved the fiber design, which now enhances the focusing capabilities of the beam, and allows for versatility of handpieces.

The laser beam exits the laser through a pen-sized handpiece. Handpieces are either tipless or come with interchangeable tips, and both focus the beam 1-3 mm away from the handpiece. Handpieces feel like a scalpel, are held close to the tissue, and no aiming beam is needed.

Articulated arm CO2 lasers emerged in the 1970s. They deliver the laser beam to the tissue through a 4-elbow-7-mirror complex arm which requires expensive, high-precision factory assembly. The beam is focused 2-3 cm from the tissue, and thus requires an aiming beam, the only indicator of where the beam is. The articulated arm feels cumbersome and is limited in its reach and accessibility when used in soft tissue surgery.

Delivery System Impact on Veterinary Treatment and ROI

Scalpel-Like Feel with Maximum Accessibility

The thin, flexible fiber and its’ pen-like handpieces are simple for veterinarians to use and enable access to normally hard-to-reach areas. The laser can be conveniently positioned due to the flexibility of the fiber, with the handpiece suspended over a mayo stand for ready access.

The pen-like handpiece is used in close proximity to tissue, providing a natural, intuitive feel and superb accuracy. Our patented fiber technology provides ease of access to awkward surgical sites that would be difficult or impossible to reach with an articulated arm system. We even have accessories that will bend the beam around corners!

The articulated arm has limited movement, which often restricts convenient positioning of the laser and suspension of the handpiece over a mayo stand for ready access. The bulky articulated arm may cause the surgeon’s arm to get fatigued, and may negatively affect the procedure outcome.


Soft-tissue CO2 laser surgery offers reduced bleeding compared to scalpel surgery, and thus improves surgical field visibility. Strong airflow from the hand piece’s beam exit aperture prevents smoke-like vaporized tissue from obscuring the surgical site. The narrow beam exit aperture is approx. 1 mm2 in area.

The articulated arm handpiece is held 10 times further from the tissue than the flexible fiber handpiece. The beam exit aperture of the articulated arm is large (area approx. 100 mm2). The large distance and size make the air purge in the articulated arm ineffective, resulting in reduced visibility of the surgical field.


The flexible fiber CO2 laser handpiece is held close to the tissue, which allows the surgeon maximum stability by resting his or her hand on the patient during treatment. This positioning enhances procedures that require high precision.

Articulated arm lasers require a visible aiming beam since the surgeon must hold the handpiece 2 – 3 cm away from the tissue in order for the laser beam to focus – the visible aiming beam is the only visible indicator of where the beam will hit the target. The visible aiming beam obscures the site and results in lower precision since the aiming beam diameter greatly exceeds that of the laser beam. Even the slightest misalignment between the aiming beam and CO2 beam results in great collateral damage, causing the laser beam to hit unintended areas around the target. Articulated arm lasers are not suitable for high precision veterinary laser surgical procedures.

Multiple Spot Sizes

Focusing tips of multiple sizes can be easily interchanged during flexible fiber CO2 laser procedures. This variety of spot sizes enables veterinarians to choose the most appropriate size for the specific procedure and soft tissue type. Tips come in multiple sizes: 0.25, 0.4, 0.8, and 1.4 mm.

Ability to Defocus

Maximum power density is needed for cutting and removing tissue, while lower power density is needed for hemostasis and wound contraction. Flexible fiber CO2 laser tips have a focal length of 1-3 mm and produce a laser beam with wide angles of convergence and divergence. Moving the handpiece away from the tissue enables the surgeon to adjust power density.

Articulated arm handpieces have a fixed 50-100 mm focal length. The beam angles of convergence and divergence are very narrow. It is thus only possible to defocus the beam by holding the handpiece very far from the tissue.


Flexible fiber CO2 laser tips produce a beam with a wide-angle of divergence. The beam defocuses rapidly, so the danger zone for eye injury is relatively short. Articulated arm laser beams maintain high power density for a greater distance because their beam has a narrow-angle of divergence, so the nominal hazard zone is far larger.


VetScalpel is the only surgical CO2 laser on the market with the ability to verify (daily or however frequently) that laser power at the distal end of the beam delivery (handpiece) matches the laser power value selected on the control panel.

Although there is an internal power meter, energy is attenuated in articulated arm delivery systems, so there is no way to tell how much energy exits the laser. When using a laser without external distal calibration capabilities, the veterinarian does not have a way to determine how much laser power is applied to the patient.


Both flexible fiber and articulated arm lasers can be used with tipless handpieces, which do not use disposables. Modern flexible fibers last up to 10 years, unlike articulated arm delivery systems, however. Only flexible fiber CO2 lasers offer multiple spot sizes for soft-tissue veterinary laser surgery.


Articulated arm lasers must be calibrated annually, which can only be done by visiting field service engineers at the expense of laser owners. Flexible fiber CO2 lasers have an external calibration port, so laser owners can perform calibrations daily, at no cost, for ultimate accuracy and prevision.

Learning Curve

Flexible fiber CO2 lasers are intuitive to use and have a short learning curve, largely because of their scalpel-like handpieces. Clinicians value the ease of access to hard-to-reach areas provided by flexible fibers.

Return on Investment

The return on investment for VetScalpel lasers is fast and substantial because of its longevity, lower end-user price, and versatility for virtually all types of soft-tissue surgeries.

Alternately, articulated arm lasers are more expensive and far less ergonomic, with limited applications and require a longer time for return on investment.


Of all the equipment we have ever bought, the laser generated the most income and is the most fun to use.

Pamela Dumont, DVM, CCRP
Godspeed Animal Care, Williamsburg, VA

I have not used a scalpel blade since I got the laser.

Tom Halliday, DVM
Animal Care Center of Cherry Way, Gahanna, OH

The carbon dioxide laser is a very effective tool for treating diseases of the perianal region. The skin of the perianal region is thin and sensitive… the laser offers a “no-touch” method of excising these lesions, which helps to decrease post-operative discomfort...

Bert A. Shelley, DVM, MS
“Use of the Carbon Dioxide Laser for Perianal and Rectal Surgery”, Vet Clin Small Anim 32 (2002) 621-637, Elsevier Science (USA)

For a laser demo in your office call

Interested in learning more about VetScalpel laser ergonomics?

Please fill out the form below and we will be in contact with you as soon as possible.

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.