Does high-intensity laser therapy speed return to primary function in horses with suspensory ligament desmopathy?



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PICO question

In horses with a suspensory ligament branch injury, does high-intensity laser therapy (energy output greater than 500 mW) combined with conservative management, compared to conservative management alone, result in a faster return to primary function?


Clinical bottom line

Category research


Number and type of study deisgns reviewed

The number and type of study designs that were critically appraised were two peer-reviewed studies: a non-randomised controlled clinical trial and a randomised controlled experimental study.

Strength of evidence


Outcomes reported

The outcomes reported are summarised as follows: the two appraised studies report positive effects of high-intensity laser therapy (HILT) on equine tendon and ligament injuries as measured by pain to palpation, lameness, swelling and ultrasonographic and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) evaluation of HILT-treated lesions.


In view of the strength of evidence and the outcomes from the studies the following conclusion is made: the two appraised studies provide only weak evidence to show that horses treated with high-intensity laser therapy (HILT) and conservative management return to primary function sooner than horses treated with conservative management alone. Issues of design, methodology, statistical analysis and reporting reduce the reliability and external validity of these studies.


How to apply this evidence in practice

The application of evidence into practice should take into account multiple factors, not limited to: individual clinical expertise, patient’s circumstances and owners’ values, country, location or clinic where you work, the individual case in front of you, the availability of therapies and resources.

Knowledge Summaries are a resource to help reinforce or inform decision making. They do not override the responsibility or judgement of the practitioner to do what is best for the animal in their care.


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Vol. 8 No. 1 (2023): The first issue of 2023

Section: Knowledge Summaries

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