We know it can be awfully stressful when you hear that your companion might need a specialty surgery to treat their condition or repair an injury. You might be familiar with what’s involved when a pet is spayed or neutered, or undergoes a dental procedure. But something like repairing a torn cruciate ligament or correcting an obstructed airway? That’s a little different!
We’re fortunate here at Elk Lake to have a Specialty Surgery Department with the staff and equipment to help patients in need of these technical procedures. Read on to learn exactly what to expect if your companion needs our help.
First of all, what is a board-certified veterinary surgeon?
Veterinary surgeons who choose to specialize in a particular area and become board-certified undergo additional training after completing the typical training for primary care veterinarians. This consists of internships, a 3-year residency program with specific training and caseload requirements as well as publication of related research in a scientific journal. Finally, they must complete a rigorous examination to earn their certification credential. During the course of their career, these surgeons continue to deepen their skills and expertise in their chosen area of focus.
Who makes up the Specialty Surgery team at ELVH?
Here at Elk Lake Veterinary Hospital, we are fortunate to have the considerable skills of Dr. Audrey Remedios available to help our patients – in addition to being a board-certified surgery specialist in both large and small animals as designated by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS), Dr. Remedios is an ACVS Founding Fellow in Minimally Invasive Surgery (Small Animal Soft Tissue). Supporting Dr. Remedios is our Specialty Surgery team, composed of technicians and assistants with particular skills and training in facilitating procedures that are less common and more technically demanding.
What is the ELVH Specialty Surgery Department like?
Our hospital has a dedicated surgical suite for specialty surgery cases, and the necessary equipment to perform these complicated procedures. Each injury or condition has a unique way of being repaired, and surgeons require access to specialized equipment, tools, and orthopedic implants in order to accommodate these cases. Our surgical equipment includes a ventilator to make anesthesia as safe as possible for our patients, and controlled-rate infusion (CRI) pumps to provide top-notch pain control before, during, and after surgery. We follow sterile surgical protocols that are even more rigorous than general surgery due to the nature of the procedures being performed. We also have enough equipment to perform multiple surgeries in a day, so that we can help as many patients as possible with limited pre-surgery wait times.
Our goal is to provide a comprehensive approach to diagnosis, treatment, and recovery for our patients, and our Specialty Surgery Department is set up to meet this objective.
What can I expect during my initial Specialty Surgery consultation?
Each patient referred to our Specialty Surgery department will start with an initial consultation with Dr. Remedios and her team. Before this consultation, Dr. Remedios will review your companion’s existing medical records and communication from your primary veterinarian, and touch base with them as needed. She will perform a detailed physical examination and discuss her diagnosis and recommended next steps with you. She will also send detailed results of her findings back to your primary veterinarian. During this appointment, you will also have the chance to ask any questions you may have about the risks and benefits of any treatment options or surgical procedures, what post-surgical recovery could look like, and what the expected outcomes of treatment would be.
For non-orthopedic surgeries like corrective surgery for brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) or the removal of nodules or masses, this initial consultation is particularly useful for forming a coherent treatment strategy. These procedures can often involve a series of pre-procedure diagnostic steps or medications, complementary therapies, or post-surgical treatments – by taking the time to discuss your companion’s specific case during this consultation, Dr. Remedios can work with you to set out a comprehensive care plan to ensure the best possible outcome.
Following this discussion, our team will send you an estimate of the cost for any procedures that Dr. Remedios recommends. They will also be happy to follow up with you to schedule surgery or any alternate treatments that you would like to pursue. If you have questions about the estimate, or about a particular procedure, they can help address them or connect with Dr. Remedios to get the information you need.
I’m worried about the cost of surgery – is there any point in scheduling a consultation if the surgery might be out of my financial range?
Great question. One of the benefits of having access to a specialist assessment of your companion’s case is the depth of knowledge and experience they have – after all, they spend their whole professional life focusing on similar cases! A specialist can help confirm the diagnosis made by your primary veterinarian, and in many cases can provide a more detailed assessment of the patient’s condition and prognosis.
Because they constantly stay up-to-date with the latest resources and research, a specialist can present you with a range of treatment options specific to your companion’s condition. Even though an orthopedic surgeon specializes in – you guessed it! – surgical procedures, they know that surgical intervention is not always the best course of action. Sometimes there is more than one surgical fix for a condition. Sometimes an alternate treatment or combination of treatments will be more effective. At ELVH we offer additional therapeutics like platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy. We also have an in-house rehabilitation department with laser therapy, massage, and veterinary chiropractic. At Dr. Remedios’ direction, our team can provide a variety of complementary treatments in addition to – or instead of – surgical repair.
During your consultation, Dr. Remedios can walk you through all the possibilities for treatment or management (surgical and non-surgical). She will help you decide which will be the best plan for both you and your companion. Because of her depth of experience, she will be able to give you an honest picture of what to expect and which course of action is likely the best for your particular circumstance. You will have the chance to ask as many questions as you like, to gain a better understanding of what potential treatments are available. We know you want your companion to be happy, healthy, and comfortable, and our goal is to give you as many resources as we can to make this possible.