Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine's assistant professor and veterinary dermatologist Ramón Almela has begun using cold plasma on superficial skin infections, benign skin growths and chronic wounds in animals as diverse as horses, dogs and cats to birds and exotic animals.
Plasma, an ionized gas, makes up nearly 99 percent of the universe. Though typically hot, it can be made cold; cold plasma has multiple medical applications, including whitening teeth, treating microscopic cancerous tumors that remain after surgery and disinfecting implants before they are put into use.
The Cummings Veterinary Medical Center is the only veterinary center in New England to offer the tool, which uses a pen-like device to target the affected area. Cold plasma comes out of the tip of the pen like a laser beam, killing bacterial, viral and fungal organisms, but leaving healthy cells alone. The antibacterial properties in cold plasma make it a useful tool for fighting drug-resistant superficial bacterial infections.
Relatively painless, Almela said that the all the animal feels is air blowing on its skin. Cold plasma isn't actually cold; when touched it feels warm. The number of treatments an animal will need depends on the severity of the wound; some patients may need only one or two treatments to see improvement. Each treatment generally takes less than a minute per square inch of affected area and is performed once or twice weekly.
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