Laser Surgery or Fire Hazard?

You take your mouse/hamster in for surgery; the vet sells you on the laser option as a safer alternative to the traditional method.  You agree not knowing the potential danger of a laser causing ignition and burning your furry friend.

Laser, oxygen, volatile anaesthetics and (specially in small animals) small operating field makes a perfect combination for fire. The authors recommend the use of hermetically tight face masks as well as the use of water-based prep solutions.

Be warned that the PDF has pictures of the burned rodents

Fire ignition during laser surgery in pet rodents

BMC Veterinary Research 2012, 8:177 doi:10.1186/1746-6148-8-177

Laser surgery is an attractive alternative to other means of section device in terms of tissue inflammation and interaction, which has been extensively used in human and veterinary medicine. Although accidental ignition during laser surgeries is sporadically reported in human medical literature, to the authors’ knowledge this is the first report regarding laser-dependent fire ignition during surgery in veterinary medicine.

Case presentation

Two rodents, a 13-month old, 27-gram, male pet mouse (Mus musculus) and a 1-year old, female Russian hamster (Phodopus sungorus), underwent surgical removal of masses with diode laser. During the surgical procedures fires ignited from the face masks. The mouse presented severe burns on the head and both forelimbs, it was hospitalized and approximately 2 months after surgery burns were resolved. The hamster presented severe burns on the face and the proximal regions of the body. At 72 hours from the accident the hamster was euthanized.


The present report suggests that fire ignition is a potential life-threatening complication of laser surgery in non-intubated rodents maintained under volatile anesthesia. High oxygen concentrations, the presence of combustible, and the narrowness of the surgical field with the face mask during laser surgery on rodents are risk factors for fire ignition.

Collarile T, Di Girolamo N, Nardini G, Ciraci IA, & Selleri P (2012). Fire ignition during laser surgery in pet rodents. BMC veterinary research, 8 PMID: 23009047


3 thoughts on “Laser Surgery or Fire Hazard?

  1. Did not know. Thank you for posting this information. Many of us look at our pets as family members and go to financial extremes to keep them healthy and safe. I know from very high vet bills, I would take the advice of the doctor if it was suggested.

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