The world is specialising but so are we
The year is flying by, we’re nearly half way through and I even found myself asking my wife where we should spend Christmas this year? The look on her face (and many of yours I suspect) told me it was still only June! It has already been a very busy year so far and I see no signs of things changing as both our surgeries continue to grow and we strive to improve our services for both patients and owners alike.
In this day and age the world is becoming more specialised and veterinary medicine and surgery is no different. The way to think of your vet is much like your own GP but obviously we carry out many medical and surgical procedures ourselves. However for every discipline there are veterinary specialists available; Orthopaedic Surgeons, Ophthalmologists, Dermatologists, Neurologists, etc.
Although we are a team of experienced vets with a number undertaking certificates, it is important to realise our limitations and sometimes we need to involve people who are specialists in their field and may know a little more! We have a very close relationship with many of the referral centres locally and they are often available to discuss more complex medical cases over the telephone avoiding the need to refer your pet. There are however, certain procedures we just cannot carry out on site such as MRI scans and spinal surgeries, we just do not have the facilities or expertise in primary practice. The downside of referral is often the cost involved and travel time.
One such service we now offer is to arrange for mobile orthopaedic surgeons to come to our practice and carry out more complex surgeries on bones and joints that would otherwise have to be referred. This has been well received as not only do pets and owners not have to travel large distances but we can reduce the costs of the procedures as we do not have the same overheads as a large referral hospital.
We have used their services to carry out fracture repairs, joint arthroscopies and correction of congenital limb deformities but by far the most common procedure is treatment of cruciate ligament disease. We now seem to see this far more commonly than we used to and there are probably several reasons for this; the ownership of large breed dogs is increasing (of which many are predisposed) and we are better at diagnosing and treating this disease than previously.
The cruciate ligament is one of the main stabilising structures of the knee and cruciate rupture in dogs is usually as a result of degeneration of the ligament over time rather than trauma. Unfortunately this means the joint is usually arthritic by the time surgery is necessary and this arthritis will progress (albeit at a slower rate than if surgery had not been carried out). This degeneration is usually present in both knees and approximately 60% of dogs will suffer rupture of the cruciate ligament in the other knee within 12-18mths.
We have been very happy with this service and the feedback from owners has also been excellent. In time I think the use of mobile specialists for various disciplines will become more commonplace and we already provide an ophthalmology specialist at the Sherborne Castle Country Fair each year to screen for hereditary eye disease. The world is changing and it’s important the Veterinary Profession keeps pace!
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