What Is A Board Certified Veterinary Surgeon?
A Board Certified Surgeon, or ACVS diplomate, is a veterinarian who, in addition to 4 years of college and 4 years of veterinary school, has completed all additional requirements established by the American Veterinary Medical Association and American College of Veterinary Surgeons to become a Board Certified Surgeon.
In addition to training received by all veterinarians, an ACVS diplomate has had the following:
- At least one year of internship
- At least 3 years of residency
- Has performed all surgeries required by the ACVS under the supervision of an ACVS diplomate
- Has participated in surgical research
- Has published original articles in peer-reviewed veterinary or medical journals
- Has passed a comprehensive series of surgery examinations
We encourage you to visit the website www.acvs.org for more information about the American Board of Veterinary Surgeons.
Why Does My Pet Need A Veterinary Surgeon?
Just as your own primary care physician may feel the need to refer you to the care of a specialist from time to time, your general practitioner veterinarian may feel your pet needs the additional expertise of a board certified surgeon for certain surgeries. In fact, many general practitioner veterinarians refer all but the most routine of surgeries to specialists'"orthopedic and neurology cases, reconstructive surgeries, tumor removals, etc.
Board certified veterinary surgeons also are often affiliated with referral hospitals where they may have access to specialized diagnostic or surgical equipment, the latest and safest anesthesia monitoring equipment, physical therapy or rehabilitation capabilities, and other critical care services that a general practitioner may not have access to. All of these specialized services may be necessary for the optimal care and recovery of your pet.
You can be assured that a veterinarian who knows when to refer you and your pet to a veterinary surgeon is one that is caring and committed to ensuring that your pet receives the highest standard of care for his or her problem.
What Kinds of Problems Require the Expertise of a Veterinary Surgeon?
Board certified veterinary surgeons can repair complex fractures and use advanced techniques to repair torn ligaments (ruptured cruciate ligaments) within the knee. They can also remove cancerous growths, manage extensive or non-healing wounds, and perform reconstructive surgery, such as grafting skin over large injuries. Spinal injuries and herniated discs are problems that are also commonly referred to board certified surgeons.
A veterinary surgeon can offer special assistance in the following kinds of cases:
- Traumatic injury and emergencies (such as fractures, skin wounds and lacerations, correction of gastric dilatation-volvulus (bloat) and exploratory (abdominal/thoracic) surgery
- Orthopedic surgeries (such as cruciate ligament surgeries (TPLOs) and correction for patella luxation.
- Soft tissue surgeries (such as tumor/cancer removal and correction of congenital defects).
- Neurological surgeries (such as herniated discs and spinal injuries).
Will My Regular Veterinarian Still Be Involved?
In many if not most surgical cases, your regular veterinarian will still supervise your pet's veterinary care, especially if your pet is continuing to cope with a disease or chronic condition. It depends on your pet's particular disease and health problem, however. Typically, though, your general practitioner veterinarian will oversee many aspects of your pet's pre-op and post-op care, just as in human medicine. Recovery periods are often prolonged in many surgical cases, particularly in orthopedic surgery, and it is very important to follow your veterinary team's recommendations concerning at-home recovery guidelines for your pet, follow up care and appointments, as well as any rehabilitation that has been prescribed.
If you think that your pet may be a candidate for veterinary surgery, talk to your general practitioner veterinarian, or find a board certified veterinary surgeon near you today.
Frequently Asked Questions
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 time do I drop off my pet for surgery?
Please drop off your pet before 8 a.m. the day of surgery.