From the Journals

Systematic review indicates cutaneous laser therapy may be safe during pregnancy



Low-level evidence supports the safety of cutaneous laser treatment during pregnancy, according to the results of a systematic review of 22 studies.

Among 380 women in all trimesters of pregnancy who were treated with various laser wavelengths, the only clinically significant event was a case of premature rupture of membranes (PROM) “without further morbidity,” wrote Eric C. Wilkerson, MD, of Skin Laser & Surgery Specialists of NY and NJ in New York, and associates. In that case, the cause was not clear, there was no further morbidity, “and it was uncertain whether this was related to the laser procedure.”

However, only 22 studies were identified between 1960 and 2017, all of which were case reports or series, published from 1994 to 2015. “[Thus far,] the best evidence exists for the safety of the carbon dioxide laser, particularly in the treatment of condyloma,” they wrote in Dermatologic Surgery.

Elective laser treatments are usually not recommended during pregnancy, but no evidence supports this, Dr. Wilkerson and coauthors wrote. Therefore, they searched for studies indexed in PubMed, Google Scholar, the Cochrane Library, or the EBSCO CINAHL Plus Database from 1960 to 2017. They also searched LexisNexis for relevant legal cases, but found none.

The women in the 22 case reports and series were aged 14-41 years and received laser therapy for cervical adenocarcinoma, urolithiasis, condyloma acuminata, cervical carcinoma in situ, cutaneous scarring, Buschke-Löwenstein tumor, verrucous carcinoma, and acne vulgaris. Modalities included 504-nm pulsed-dye laser, 532-nm potassium titanyl phosphate, 1,064-nm neodymium:YAG, 2,100-nm holmium:YAG, and 10,600-nm CO2.

Apart from the case of PROM, there were no instances of fetal morbidity or mortality, premature labor or preterm birth, or detectable fetal stress, the authors wrote. The case of PROM occurred at 35 weeks, 4 days after the mother had received CO2 laser therapy for condyloma acuminata. She delivered normally approximately 1 week later. There also were several cases of premature contractions without true labor, all of which responded to tocolytic therapy. (In the same study, there also were two cases of PROM in women 7 and 10 weeks after the same procedure, but were thought to be unrelated.)

The thickness of the pregnant abdomen, uterus, and amniotic fluid makes it “very unlikely” that clinically significant amounts of laser energy would reach the fetus during cutaneous laser therapy, the authors noted. Certain topical anesthetics, such as lidocaine and prilocaine, also appear safe during pregnancy “and may potentially decrease concern for fetal stress secondary to maternal stress or pain during the procedure,” they added. “Appropriate safety measures including eye protection and laser plume management should continue to be used during laser treatment.”

The authors reported no funding sources or conflicts of interest.

SOURCE: Wilkerson EJ et al. Dermatol Surg. 2019 Jun;45(6):818-28.

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