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When your pet needs a consultation with a surgical specialist you can rely on our ACVS Board-Certified Surgeons to give your pet a thorough evaluation and provide you with the information you need about diagnostic testing, treatments, and prognosis. Our surgeons are experts with regards to when surgery is necessary and, just as importantly, when surgery may not be the best choice for your pet. If surgery is the best option, rest assured your pet is in capable hands. Our doctors and technical staff are here to help guide you and your pet through the process. When possible and indicated, we employ minimally invasive techniques such as arthroscopy, endoscopy, and laparoscopy to reduce postoperative discomfort and speed recovery. Our hospital-wide dedication to the most progressive pain management techniques ensures your pet a comfortable recovery.

Orthopedic and Neurologic Surgery
Each year over 500 patients undergo surgery at our hospital for an orthopedic or neurologic issue. As surgery is often only one aspect of returning to optimal function; our approach to these patients involves not only our surgeons, but our radiologist, rehabilitation services, other staff doctors, and our 24 hour technician staff. We are especially well known for our success at treating patients with cruciate ligament tears, fractures, and intervertebral disc ruptures. We also perform surgery for many other orthopedic problems.

Orthopedic services include:

  • Cruciate Ligament Tear
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Fractures
  • Osteochondrosis Dissicans (OCD) (With arthroscopy available in some cases.)
  • Elbow Dysplasia (Again, with arthroscopy available in some cases.)
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Traumatic Luxation
  • Ununited Anconeal Processes
  • Biceps Tendonitis
  • Tendon Laceration
  • Angular Limb Deformities

Neurologic services include:

  • Intervertebral Disc Disease
  • Spinal Fracture

Soft Tissue Surgery
“Soft Tissue” refers to surgery involving structures outside of the skeleton. Each year close to 400 patients undergo surgery at our hospital for many different problems involving the soft tissues. In addition to having a board-certified veterinary surgeon perform the procedure; patients of our hospital benefit from the availability of specialized medications, diagnostic and monitoring equipment, and a staff dedicated to top-notch pain management. We believe our 24 hour technician staff provides care essential for the safety of our patients recovering from surgery and who need careful monitoring and pain management.

The most common soft tissue procedures performed at our hospital are tumor biopsy or removal, gastrointestinal surgery, urinary tract surgery, wound repair, respiratory surgery, and medically indicated ear surgery. In this modern era of veterinary medicine, tools such as ultrasound allow us to detect problems like abdominal tumors at a much earlier stage than in the past. Early removal of such tumors by a skilled surgeon can greatly improve the prognosis of many patients.

Minimally Invasive Surgery (Endoscopy)
Endoscopy is a minimally invasive method which can be used to evaluate many areas of the body. In some cases, an endoscopic procedure may reduce or eliminate the need for a more extensive open surgery. Our endoscopy equipment includes 3 flexible and 3 rigid scopes of various sizes, several cameras, monitor and an extensive array of endoscopic surgical equipment. We are able to use the fiber optic scopes attached to a camera to pass into certain areas of the body. The camera projects a magnified image on a monitor that allows us to visualize structures, identify abnormalities, and in many cases obtain diagnostic samples. Examples include:

  • Esophagoscopy – evaluation of the esophagus
  • Gastroscopy – evaluation of the stomach
  • Duodenoscopy – evaluation of the upper portion of the intestine
  • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy – evaluation of the esophagus, stomach, and upper portion of the intestine
  • Colonoscopy – evaluation of the colon
  • Cystoscopy – evaluation of the bladder
  • Rhinoscopy – evaluation of the nasal cavity
  • Laparoscopy – evaluation of the abdominal cavity
  • Arthroscopy – evaluation of a joint
  • Otoscopy – evaluation of the ear canal
  • Thoracoscopy – evaluation of the chest cavity

Your doctor will give you the benefits and drawbacks of any endoscopic procedures recommended. All of the above procedures require general anesthesia.

Anesthesia
Our doctors perform about 1500 anesthetic procedures each year. This experience, along with an excellent technical staff and the state-of-the-art anesthetic monitoring equipment available at our hospital, minimize the risk associated with anesthetic and surgical procedures. While the risks of anesthesia cannot be eliminated, we do our best to keep you informed of the level of risk as well as to be proactive in detecting and treating problems that may add to this risk. We have a wide array of anesthetic medications available and tailor our anesthetic protocol to each patient’s needs.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament Disease

The most common cause of rear limb lameness in dogs is a tear or rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). This painful injury allows degenerative changes to occur in the pet's stifle joint (which, despite its location, actually corresponds to the human knee joint). Just as in people, this is a delicate joint, prone to traumatic injury, in which the 'kneecap' is held in place on top of the tibia by two cruciate ligaments. Rupture can occur when the joint is rotated unexpectedly, hyperextended, or when it is hit catastrophically from the side or the front. Certain conformational defects, such as crooked legs, can also lead to a slow degeneration of the joint over time.

There is a surgical correction, however, that can help alleviate the problem. Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy, or TPLO, is a procedure which puts the animal's knee joint back in proper alignment. During the surgery, the leg bones are cut and rotated to their proper positions and then stabilized using a metal plate and bone screws. As with any kind of complicated orthopedic surgery, the recovery period is crucial and the animal's activity must be severely limited. Patients must not be allowed to jump, play, run, climb up and down stairs, or do much more than walk quietly on a leash.
 

Elbow Dysplasia

The term elbow dysplasia refers to a degenerative disease of the elbow joint. There are several different potential causes for the problem, that may occur singly or at the same time in the same animal. Elbow dysplasia occurs primarily in medium to large breed dogs. Dogs with elbow dysplasia typically show signs of lameness before reaching one year of age, although in some cases lameness may not become apparent until middle age.

The treatment for this disease can involve surgical and/or medical options. If you think your dog is experiencing problems in his or her elbow joint, be sure to discuss your concerns with your veterinarian.
 

Hip Dysplasia

This is a hereditary, developmental disease that affects the hip joints of dogs. Certain breeds are more likely to be affected than others. Although its occurrence in large and giant breeds is well documented, there is evidence that it may also be present in smaller breed dogs and cats as well.

Poor conformation of the hip and thigh bone structures result in a 'looseness' of this ball and socket joint. This looseness allows the ball part of the joint to move in the socket, instead of remaining stable as it should in a healthy, normal, tight fit. This abnormal movement can create wear and tear in the joint, leading to arthritis. Although signs of the disease do not typically appear until after the dog matures, puppies as young as five to six months can be affected. Hip pain, stiffness, abnormal gait patterns, an
audible 'clicking' sound while walking, and a reluctance to exercise are all possible signs of hip dysplasia.

The disease is usually diagnosed using radiographs, or x-rays. The treatment for this condition is primarily surgical. In one type of procedure, the Triple Pelvic Osteotomy, or TPO, the bones of the pelvis are cut apart and rotated to more correct positions. In Total Hip Replacement (THR) procedures, a dog's diseased hip joints are replaced with prosthetic ones. The goal of both surgeries is to provide your pet with some measure of normal activity and function and to reduce the pain associated with the condition. A very high level of success is reported with these surgeries. However, as with all major procedures, it is very important to follow your veterinary surgeon's recommendations regarding recovery and rehabilitation.
 

Questions to Ask Your Veterinarian

Many owners are increasingly seeking specialized care for their pets, just as they do with other family members, in order to secure the very best outcome. If your pet is facing surgery, here are some questions you may wish to ask your general practitioner veterinarian:

  • How often have you performed this type of surgery?
  • Does the surgery require any special equipment?
  • Is it available?
  • Does my pet's surgery require a specialist?
  • What should I expect the outcome of the surgery to be?
  • What follow up care is necessary?


Source: The American College of Veterinary Surgeons

What Additional Training Does A Board Certified Veterinary Surgeon Have?

Veterinarians who want to become board certified in small animal surgery must seek additional, intensive training to become a specialist and earn this prestigious credentialing. Specialty status is granted by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS). A veterinarian who has received this specialty status will list the initials, 'DACVS,' after his or her DVM degree. Or, the veterinarian may indicate that he or she is a 'Diplomate' of the ACVS. The word 'Diplomate' typically means the specialist has achieved the following:

  • Obtained a degree in veterinary medicine from a university certified by the American Veterinary Medical Association following completion of undergraduate requirements.
  • Completed a one year general internship, plus an additional three to four years of advanced training in a residency at a veterinary teaching hospital where the veterinarian will have trained with some of the best surgeons in the field and obtained hands on experience. Surgery residents also have to complete a case log in soft tissue, orthopedic, and neurologic surgery.
  • Completed the credentialing application process established by the ACVS, including publication of research results.
  • Passed a rigorous examination.

After completing and passing all of these rigorous requirements, the veterinarian is then recognized by his or her peers as a board certified specialist in veterinary surgery. When your pet needs the care of a veterinary surgeon, years of additional training and education will be focused on helping him or her to recover from injury or illness and enjoy the highest quality of life possible.

What are Common Referral Veterinary Surgeries?

  • Tumor removal
  • Limb amputation
  • Cruciate ligament repair (TPLO's and other traditional methods)
  • Hip replacement
  • Surgical repair of elbow dysplasia
  • Spinal problems/herniated discs
  • Gastric dilatation/volvulus
  • Wound management and skin reconstruction
  • Congenital defects
  • Urinary obstructions
  • Cancer Surgeries

Cancer does appear to be becoming more common in both dogs and cats, most likely because they are simply living longer. However, early detection and specialized care are leading to increased survival and cure rates in almost all the types of cancers that afflict pets. From surgery to chemotherapy to radiation therapy, veterinary cancer specialists (link to cancer specialty page) can offer your pet the very latest diagnostic and treatment options and the best chance of survival. With optimal treatment, cancer in many cases simply becomes another manageable chronic disease.

Surgery is one of the most common treatment options for pets with cancer, and can lead to enhanced survival times and better quality of life for many affected pets. Your veterinary surgeon will work closely with your general practitioner or veterinary oncologist to ensure your pet is getting the very best care.


 

What are the Most Common Orthopedic Surgeries?

Three orthopedic surgeries that are commonly performed in pets are triple pelvic osteotomy (TPO), total hip replacement (THR), and cruciate ligament repair (TPLO).

In the TPO procedure, the bones of the pelvis are cut apart and rotated to more correct positions. In THR procedures, a dog's diseased hip joints are replaced with prosthetic ones. TPO's and THR's are two commonly used surgical techniques for the treatment of canine hip dysplasia (CHD), an inherited and potentially painful disease that affects the hip joints of millions of dogs. Cruciate ligament disease can occur in both dogs and cats, who usually tear or rupture this ligament while exercising, playing, or simply landing incorrectly after a jump. The ligament will not heal without surgery. Surgery helps to stabilize the pet's knee joint and prevent further wear on the joint and associated structures. An increasingly common surgical technique to correct this situation is called the Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy'"or TPLO.
 

Will My Pet Be in Pain?

Surgery is a major medical procedure and is often associated with pain in both animals and humans. You can be assured that your veterinary team (your pet's general practitioner veterinarian, veterinary surgeon, and any other veterinary specialists involved in your pet's care) will prescribe pain management options to help keep your pet as comfortable as possible before, during, and after surgery. If you are concerned about pain management for your pet, simply ask your veterinarian.
 

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