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The Advances In Veterinary Surgery

Mar 4, 2008
The past few decades have seen a period of continuing advances in the art and science of veterinary surgery. Even the last few years have seen advances of outstanding value. In the field of surgery, operations are carried out today which a few years ago could not have been contemplated.

Operations into the chest cavity or intra-thoracic surgery involving such vital organs as the gullet and lungs are now accessible to the surgeon's skill. The "pinning" of bones, where the old-fashioned and cumbersome splint has gone by the board, has resulted in finer and more rapid repair, with far less pain and discomfort to the patient. Prostatectomy, or removal of the prostate gland which causes so much trouble in the older male dog, has now become a possibility and is one of the most recent conditions to come within the scope of the surgeon.

In the scope of the clinicians the antibiotics have greatly widened the horizons of veterinary medicine. The newer antibiotics have a broad spectrum activity which means that they are effective against a very wide range of disease-producing organisms. Virus diseases have still to be conquered by antibiotics or chemo-therapeutic agents, but their life too is limited. The newer antibiotics have also the added advantage of being less weakening or harmful to the patient and thus enable a more rapid recovery.

The fact that many are effective when given by mouth means that the patient can often be nursed at home and suffer less disturbance as a result. For the aged patient the cortisone group of drugs have resulted in a great saving of both life and also discomfort. In cases of eye damage or disease, this group of drugs has saved the sight of hundreds of animals which before would have become blind, or even have died.

Anaesthesia, widely used as a routine in all surgical measures, is today safer than it ever has been. Muscle relaxants and tranquillisers have meant that lower dosages of the more dangerous general anaesthetics can be employed, resulting in less risk to the animal at time of surgery and a more speedy recovery afterwards, because the degree of surgical shock has been reduced.

In the realm of the virus diseases, whilst no chemo-therapeutic agent has been developed which is specifically effective against this ultra-microscopic group of organisms, more anti-sera and vaccines are available than ever before to combat these diseases, and it is up to the individual dog owner to make full use of these valuable assets to prevent rather than try to cure such diseases. "Hard-Pad" and Rubarth's disease are the two main ones in this group of virus infections.

All this means in terms of the individual dog that not only has much of the pain, misery and disfigurement been removed from cases of accident or disease, but also that a dog which would previously have had to be destroyed can now frequently be saved to lead a normal or near normal life.

In the field of bone surgery, antibiotics have enabled the surgeon to enlarge his scope to deal successfully with almost every kind of bone injury. In the past bone surgery has been handicapped by the constant menace of infection at the time of injury, and bones having a poor blood supply are particularly prone to become centres of infection, once contaminated. The X-ray photographs show how a completely shattered limb can be reconstructed using a stainless steel pin as a foundation, resulting in a new life for the animal.

Surgery such as this not only requires a high degree of technical skill, making use of all the aids available, but also a sustained attack on the bacteria which are liable to have entered the skin wound in such cases of compound fracture. These antibiotic "umbrellas", as they are called, are of the greatest value to the surgeon, and many can be given by mouth, which means more rest for the convalescent patient. In the post-operative period, just as during the actual operation, new drugs of the tranquilliser type provide a safer and more restful convalescence.

These agents can be employed for long periods and do not have the depressing side effects found with the earlier barbiturate group of preparations. In addition, these tranquillisers may be used in conjunction with the true hypnotics, but the dosage rates of these more dangerous drugs may be reduced accordingly.
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