Comparing Veterinary CO2 Laser Technologies to VetScalpel

When selecting a CO2 surgical laser for your practice, it is important to select the most reliable and ergonomic laser technology and warranty.

State-of-the-Art American Technology

Luxar lasers were the most popular surgical CO2 lasers in the world from 1990-2005, with over 12,000 units installed, and were the first to feature a flexible waveguide fiber ( The VetScalpel laser was designed by Luxar’s chief scientists and engineers, who improved upon the laser technology.

Veterinary VetScalpel lasers have many of the same critical components as the Luxar laser. Compared to Luxar lasers, however, new generation VetScalpel lasers feature an upgradeable user control panel, more laser pulsing capabilities, disposable-free (tipless) handpieces, and an efficient active cooling heat exchanger, among many other exclusive components.

compare surgical laser tech

Figure 1. Shown here are the outdated articulated arm (left) and 21st-century flexible fiber waveguide (right). The flexible fiber allows the handpiece to have a maneuverable, lightweight feel like a scalpel.

VetScalpel CO2 laser technology diagram

Figure 2. The VetScalpel by Aesculight surgical CO2 laser system and it’s components.

VetScalpel Lasers Include the Following Components

  1. All-metal laser tube;
  2. Low voltage 32 volts DC and RF power supplies;
  3. Heat exchanger;
  4. Beam delivery system;
  5. Laser power meter;
  6. Beam attenuator – shutter;
  7. Devices monitoring the performance of all critical components 1 through 6;
  8. User control panel;
  9. Fiber calibration port;
  10. Software program controlling all the hardware items 1 through 9; and
  11. Safety ‘watch-dog’ software program monitoring items 1 through 10.

How Do Imported Lasers Compare to American-Made Lasers?

Imported lasers often have bulky articulated arms (1980s technology), and fragile, high voltage (over 10,000 volts) glass laser tubes; intense heat is generated by plasma inside the glass tube and could cause it to crack (1960s technology).

‘Distal Calibration’

VetScalpel is the only veterinary surgical CO2 laser on the market today with the ability to calibrate the laser power or verify that the power selected on the control panel matches the power that exits the laser handpiece. Calibration can be done at any time by the user through the calibration port on the side of the laser (Figure 2).

Although FDA regulations require all medical lasers to have a built-in power meter (FDA CDRH Title 21 Part 1040.11), some imported lasers do not have this device. When using a laser without a power meter and distal calibration capabilities, the clinician does not have a way to determine how much power is applied to the patient.

Laser Cooling Technology

CO2 lasers are only 10-20 % efficient; hence, 80-90 % of electrical energy is transformed directly into heat inside the laser tube and laser system. This wasted heat needs to be removed, otherwise, the laser may overheat. The VetScalpel laser systems have all-metal laser tubes with forced air cooling. Competitors use glass tubes with water cooling. Some of the disadvantages of competitor laser cooling systems include glass tube fragility and the chore of keeping the water cooling system full.

Beam Delivery Technology

VetScalpel Technology: The ergonomic flexible fiber waveguide CO2 lasers have been popular since the mid-1990s. These long-lasting flexible fibers enable handpieces to have a scalpel-like feel, enabling pinpoint accuracy and accessibility for surgeons. Flexible fibers can be easily calibrated by the user at any time, adding a significant safety benefit.

Competitor Technology: Articulated arms are outdated technology, developed in the 1970s-80s. They are not as maneuverable and allow surgeons limited accessibility and accuracy. Articulated arms can only be calibrated at the manufacturing facility or by field service engineers.

Laser Tube Technology

VetScalpel Technology: All-metal RF excited CO2 laser technology (Figure 2) has been dominant in medical, industrial, and military applications since the mid-1990s. This is the only proven technology that allows for fast, inexpensive service in demanding settings.

Competitor Technology: Antiquated fragile glass tubes (1960s technology) are difficult to service. The very high voltage (over 10,000 volts) needed to operate these lasers often causes damage that calls for expensive laser tube replacement, rather than repair.

Laser Warranty

Many imported lasers have laser power monitors and other safety features disabled. Laser performance is not monitored, warranties thus do not cover system deterioration, and distributors can claim arbitrary long warranty periods.


VetScalpel has several advantages over other competing laser manufacturers including laser beam delivery, ergonomics, cooling systems, and safety. It is important to do your research before purchasing a CO2 surgical laser and to be especially cautious when ordering one from overseas.


We paid off our laser in a little more than a year, which is better than any other piece of equipment we ever bought. Plus ... it’s fun!

Kevin Erickson, DVM
Kulshan Veterinary Hospital, Lynden, WA

Purchasing a laser was very important to me when opening our new practice. It gives the animals such an easy recovery. Our representative and Aesculight made the purchase and new staff training easy. Thank you.

Aine Greenwell, DVM
Hendersonville Animal Hospital, Hendersonville, TN

Laser surgery is one of the newest surgical innovations available to veterinary medicine. It uses surgical CO2 laser light to cut and cauterize tissue instead of a scalpel blade. It literally vaporizes cells to separate the tissue planes for incisions or to...

Willamette Valley Animal Hospital
Keizer, OR

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