Dr. John Godbold – 2019 Kumar Patel Prize Recipient

2019 Kumar Patel Prize Recipient for outstanding contributions to Veterinary Laser Surgery Education

John C. Godbold, Jr., DVM

Stonehaven Veterinary Consulting, Jackson, TN

Veterinary Laser Surgery Education By Practitioners, for Practitioners

My love affair with lasers and other light-based medical technologies began in 1999 with a picture in a veterinary trade magazine. The picture, accompanying an article about a simple CO2 laser surgery procedure, was intriguing, a bit mysterious, and very exciting.

Our first date was a few weeks later when the representative of a surgical laser company brought a CO2 laser to my practice for a demonstration. He put the laser in my hands and talked me through several surgical procedures. Seeing tissue vaporize was more intriguing, more mysterious, and exquisitely more exciting than the picture. I was in love. My first CO2 surgical laser was delivered within a month.

Dr. Godbold instructing a veterinary laser surgery course

Dr. Godbold instructing a veterinary laser surgery course

For early adopters of veterinary surgical lasers, a challenge was the lack of easily accessible information about the science of laser-tissue interaction and no information about its use in specific veterinary surgical procedures. We had been given a tool that had no predetermined uses. By default, the development of applicable uses fell into the hands of practitioners willing to explore how our new tool might be applicable in everyday applications and procedures.

Using veterinary ingenuity and cross-species application of concepts, new applications emerged. Early adopters shared their clinical experiences, those that had been successful, and those not so. We sought any potentially helpful publication, we networked to share case reports, we celebrated when laser surgery texts were published in 2002 (Bartels) and 2006 (Berger & Eeg), and today, still hungry for information, we look forward to a new text in 2019 (Winkler).

In thousands of practices, working with tens-of-thousands of patients, practitioners discovered that our new tool had many uses. Practitioners found it could be incorporated into common everyday procedures, new procedures, and previously referred procedures. The only limitation to the diversity of applications was the limitation of practitioners’ imagination and ingenuity.
A provision in the purchase contract for my first CO2 surgical laser stipulated that I supply the manufacturer with several case reports and pre-, intra-, and postoperative pictures. With no thought other than fulfilling that responsibility, I borrowed a digital camera from the manufacturer’s representative. That camera was a bulky, first-generation digital device that saved images on a CD-ROM. Just like when the laser was first placed in my hands, that first digital camera opened the door to a whole new and exciting world of technology.

My venture into veterinary education came after compiling several case reports. In 2001, I was asked to present a few of those case reports to colleagues in an informal laser surgery workshop. One event led to another, then another, and then over 600 lectures, workshops, and wet-labs over the next 18 years.

Dr. Godbold Presenting

Dr. Godbold Presenting at the WVC in 2016

Making presentations about laser surgery and leading wet labs and workshops over nearly two decades allowed me to work with countless organizers, sponsors, and co-faculty. Luxar, Accuvet, Lumenis, Aesculight, and LuxarCare have sponsored hundreds of events and have been instrumental in the professional learning how to do laser surgery.

Colleagues who pioneered veterinary laser surgery education established the tradition of practitioner-based education. Dozens of colleagues joined me in following that tradition. They did so unselfishly, often without compensation, while quietly contributing to the profession’s knowledge. The result is that over hundreds of hours, with hundreds of tissue models and cadavers, thousands of practitioners have been trained by their colleagues to integrate lasers into their surgeries.

All of those who have been involved in veterinary laser surgery education have been inspired by those who came before. All have contributed in unique and valuable ways, and all have advanced the technology to where we are today. Along with celebrating the tradition and process of veterinary laser surgery education yesterday and today, let us celebrate those who will continue that tradition and process in the future.

John C. Godbold, Jr., DVM
Biographical Highlights

John Godbold Jr., DVMDr. Godbold graduated with honors from Auburn University School of Veterinary Medicine in 1978. In 1980, he established Stonehaven Park Veterinary Hospital in Jackson, Tennessee where he practiced full-time as a solo small animal practitioner for 33 years. Dr. Godbold currently works full-time with Stonehaven Veterinary Consulting, teaching and assisting colleagues and working in the development of new technologies.

Since 1999, Dr. Godbold has pursued a special interest in the use of light-based modalities in small animal practice. He has extensive experience with surgical and therapeutic lasers, has developed new surgical and therapeutic techniques, and assists equipment manufacturers with the development of new laser and light-based technologies.

In 2016 Dr. Godbold expanded his interest to include digital thermal imaging and has worked in depth in the development and delivery of educational content about thermal imaging and its application in veterinary practice.

Dr. Godbold has published numerous papers, articles, and chapters about the use of lasers in small animal practice. His publications have appeared in the Journal of the Ameri-can Veterinary Medical Association, Clinician’s Brief, Laserpoints, The Feline Patient, Laser Surgery in Veterinary Medicine, The Integrative Veterinary Care Journal, and the Newsletter of the Veterinary Surgical Laser Society.

Dr. Godbold published the internationally distributed Atlas of CO2 Laser Surgery Procedures in 2002, with a new edition each year since. In 2009, Dr. Godbold published the Atlas of Class IV Laser Therapy – Small Animal, also updated with a new edition each year.

He is co-editor and a chapter contributor of the textbook Laser Therapy in Veterinary Medicine – Photobiomodulation, 2017, Wiley.

Dr. Godbold is a member of the Medical Advisory Board of the American Institute of Medical Laser Applications, the Companion Animal Health Veterinary Advisory Board, the Digatherm Veterinary Medical Advisory Board, and the American Academy of Thermology.

In high demand as a continuing education speaker, Dr. Godbold has led over 600 laser workshops, wet-labs, and continuing education meetings throughout North America and in over 25 countries around the world.