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Physeal Arrest Due to Laser Beam Damage in a Growing Child

Peterson, Hamlet A. M.D., M.S.; Wood, Michael B. M.D., M.S.

Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics: May-June 2001 - Volume 21 - Issue 3 - p 335-337

A laser beam applied directly to epiphyseal cartilage may damage the cartilage selectively without affecting adjacent bone. The damaged physis is replaced by bone, which forms a bone bridge between the metaphysis and epiphysis, similar to the bone bridges that follow fracture of any long bone. This case report documents damage to two distal phalangeal epiphyseal plates as a sequela of laser beam injury. This resulted in premature partial physeal closure (physeal bars), which in turn caused progressive angular deformity and relative shortening of the digits, requiring multiple osteotomies for correction. This report suggests that special care must be exercised when using laser therapy near physes in growing children.

Study conducted at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, U.S.A.

From the Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, U.S.A.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Hamlet A. Peterson, M.D., Mayo Clinic, 200 First St., S.W., Rochester, MN 55905, U.S.A. E-mail:

© 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.