The first real cut… First solo surgery on a rabbit! (Day 562)

Encapsulated abcess removal in rabbit

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Supreme Petfoods Rabbit Feeds

Scalpel. Cut. Disect. Check breathing. Cut. Ligate. Check breathing. Ligate. Disect. Today I found the zone. The place inside where surgeons can operate with everything else going on. Where the world doesn’t exist. Where it’s just you, your assistant and the patient. Where there are no distractions. Where the only thing that matters is the patient. Where you put every ounce of knowledge to the test. Where you test everything you’ve ever learnt.

Today I was given my first solo (supervised) surgical procedure. The first time where I picked up the scalpel to start, and passed the needle through the skin to close. Where I had to decide if it was connective tissue, blood vessel or abscess that needed to come out.

I can barely put into words how amazing it was, the rabbit started with an encapsulated abscess, this means it had a outer chamber like a pocket surrounding all the fluid inside it. And in this case it had multiple pockets as well so before I got there the doctor tried draining these however it was a losing battle. I was asked if I wanted to do it instead and we made a decision that we would remove all the abcess tissue from the area which would also prevent the problem recurring.

Now I have assisted in some tumour removals in rats which is the same basic principle of seperating the tissue that you want to remove from everything else. This I was expecting to be easier however because the abcess had been previously drained it was a little more complicated to seperate the different tissues and there were some veins involved passing through the abcess site. I believe I got it all though as I could not palpate anything else, however because it was a dirty surgery we did decide to keep the rabbit on antibiotics because of the risk of subsequent infection.

I feel amazing, its a rush, and I love it! Absolutely perfect ending to an amazing week of vet school! Sorry for the gross photo which doesn’t do the size of it justice.

Encapsulated abcess removal in rabbit

Microsurgery with a plastic surgeon… (Day 561)

Microsurgery femoral anastomosis vet student

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Pet Hooligans

Today was pretty amazing and among my top days so far of vet school. Some things are rarely taught to vet students and one of them is microsurgery, this is surgery that is done under a operating microscope. This is generally used in human surgery fields such as neurosurgery and vascular surgery (surgery on the arteries and veins). Now the university here works closely with the human hospitals so today we had a plastic surgeon visiting to carry out training.

Now I asked if I could join them and got a yes so spent most of my morning learning about vascular surgery before being taught the basics of using a operating microscope. It really was fascinating and has set me thinking about how a operating microscope could be used when doing surgery on our smaller patients.

Microsurgery femoral anastomosis vet student

Watching the surgeon work was absolutely amazing as he was able to place 7 stitches into a artery that was around 1mm wide! Now obviously this means that the suture material had to be really thin, in fact I would go far enough to say that it was pretty much invisible to the naked eye. Now there are special techniques and special tools that are used in this type of surgery, however it is also a lot of training as you have to learn depth perception under the microscope, as well as get the extremely small movements that are used during the surgery.

The university doesn’t have any micro-surgery instruments as the human surgeons visiting bring their own so I am hopeful that I may be able to pick some instruments up over the next few months. I really think that being able to get better visualisation of blood vessels would give better control of bleeding and so improve patient outcomes so it is something I really want to try!

Surgery in reptiles… (Day 560)

Vet Student Reptile Surgery

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Best Pet Hair Remover

As much as you can read nothing will prepare for you to actually do stuff until you do it. Today I was given the opportunity to do something that I had thought about and wondered about a lot. We have a very good reptile doctor here who had a tail amputation this morning in a bearded dragon.

Now generally with reptiles (as with many other species) there is the survival instinct to reproduce, and many times males will fight with each other to be the superior male and hence get the chance to mate. The problem is when they are taken from the wild and kept as pets it can mean injuries. There is never really a cause to keep two males together, and generally it is not recommended. Doing so can cause aggression between them and lead to some severe injuries. Whilst its fine to say this, sometimes it is difficult to sex females, especially when young and it is a skill that takes time to learn and is usually specific to the species.

Vet Student Reptile Surgery

Now the gender of today’s patient had been mistaken and it was mistakenly believed that a male and female were kept together within the enclosure. There had been aggression between the two males that were kept together and this guy had received wounds to this tail which then had become necrotic. Whilst some lizards can “drop” their tails the bearded dragon isn’t one of them and so this tail required surgical amputation.

Now tail amputation is a pretty simple procedure, incisions are made to leave a flap to close the end of the tail. When doing this procedure one of the things to look at is to make sure that the tail is separated between the vertebrae so there are no jagged ends. After this the skin and muscle layer is closed over the end of the tail.

The doctor today let me close the skin and muscle layer, this was interesting as it is the first time I have ever done any suturing on a reptile. The skin here is a lot tougher than other species with the scales being extremely strong. Now I closed this wound with 4 stitches that will be left in for around 28 – 30 days to give the skin time to close.

My conference – Emergency and Critical Care Weekend 2014 (Day 558)

UVM Kosice Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Weekend

Sponsored by Royal Canin, MILA International, IMS Euro and supported by the BSAVA

Well as I said in my last diary post, I have been busy working on organising a conference here for students at the university. This took place over the past weekend and was a big success with over 120 people attending the lecture stream and another 100 participating in the workshops on the Sunday with great support from the sponsors!

UVM Kosice Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Weekend

The topic was a relatively new field in Veterinary Medicine, that of Veterinary Emergency and Critical care which has been rapidly changing and evolving over the past few years (along with the way emergency cover is provided). Whilst UVM Kosice does have doctors on call 24 hours a day, there is no staffed emergency clinic (purely because of the lack of demand) so I was really excited to run this weekend with vets that work only in Emergency and Critical Care. We had both Chris Parratt and Kevin Kirchofer from the VetsNow Emergency center in Glasgow, along with Dr Leona Raušerová from Brnu Vet School Emergency clinic. Also as a added bonus Royal Canin organised for us to have Dr Ladislav Smatana to talk to us about critical care nutrition in dogs and cats which is something that is often overlooked and forgotten.

Personally I was too busy with my organisational tasks to attend many of the sessions, however what I did get to see was absolutely amazing. There have been so many advancements and with stuff from the front line of Emergency and Critical Care. For example something that I had never considered was one of the most common poisonings seen is that of xylitol, an artificial sweetener used in chewing gum… Just one stick of gum is enough to kill a dog!

The weekend had great feedback, and I am now going focus on finishing this semester and getting all my summer exams finished!

The organisation of a veterinary conference… (Day 546)

UVM Kosice Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Weekend Proceedings 2014

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Vet School Success

I think I need to explain where my time has gone in the past month. One of the things I believe in and am passionate about is that every vet student deserves the chance to be the best they can. It is what drives me to push my own limits, and over here in Slovakia when comparing it to the UK students tend to be forgotten. At the end of 2012 I spoke to the BSAVA (British Small Animal Veterinary Association) about setting up a student rep program out here as they have in the UK and became the first BSAVA International Student Rep. I am extremely grateful to the BSAVA for such an opportunity and it is something that proved very popular for students here (6 students are joining me at BSAVA Congress 2014!), and since then I have pursued other avenues as well to ensure students here get the same support as students in the UK.

In January I arranged for students here to attend the Webinar Vet Virtual Congress 2014 which went down really well. In addition to this I also managed to secure some new books for the university library.

Last April at BSAVA Congress I discussed the possibility of getting some funding for a clinical club lecture which is something UK students get to invite guest speakers to events for vet students. Now inviting a guest speaker is difficult here (with the transport involving flights etc) so I decided to host a clinical club weekend. Asking students what they wanted a topic of Emergency and Critical Care was selected, and I set about finding speakers for it. I now have 3 speakers joining us for the weekend, with the entire Saturday going to lectures, followed by a conference dinner and then the Sunday being full of practical workshop sessions to give students the chance to develop essential skills. I’ve had great support to make this weekend truly outstanding from people I have met at BSAVA Congress previously including Deni from MILA International Inc and Durgham from IMS Euro Ltd along with Royal Canin!

This has been a big undertaking, and for the next week will take up most of my time. It is very exciting having the opportunity to develop new things here. I will try to keep you updated with the progress of the event as it starts to happen!

Just 10 days to go now!

UVM Kosice Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Weekend Proceedings 2014