Starting 2015 by assisting in emergency surgery…

Vet student in surgery

Today’s Diary entry is sponsored by Spikes Wildlife Foods

It has been 2015 for just over 9 hours, one of which was filled with fireworks, 6 of which were filled with sleep, and 2 which were preparation for another day in clinic. Sometimes I feel old, last night instead of joining the thousands out partying I read a book by my favourite author Lee ChildPersonal the latest in the Jack Reacher series which I had been saving since the summer. I actually finished it in one sitting as it was such an awesome book…

Anyways back to 2015, it’s now a little closer to 9:45am, and we have a patient transferred from the internal medicine service onto surgery that had shown abnormalities on ultrasound. It was believed to be a intussusception caused by a linear foreign body as there were changes in the intestines, so we took the patient to xray to have a look at what we could see. There were some changes on xray to part of the intestine and the rest of the intestine was filled with gas (this is not normal and is a sign of foreign body) however it was non-specific. We then did a second palpation exam of the abdomen and found what felt like a ping pong ball hard round lump.

Finding this the only course was surgery to perform a laparotomy (opening of the abdomen) to examine the intestines, and remove this lump whatever it was. Because of the holiday there were only two of us in the building, so I started prepping the patient whilst the doctor started prepping surgery. I am able to say that it really isn’t as easy doing it alone as with help, even when it’s just holding a leg out of the way it really does make a difference. After I finished prep and got the patient onto the table I sorted out the anaesthesia and got everything connected whilst the doctor scrubbed and then once I was happy the patient’s anaesthesia was stable I went to scrub myself.

After scrubbing and gowning up I moved to assist in surgery whilst keeping an eye on the anaesthesia, this was my first time assisting in an abdominal surgery on a dog so I was really excited. The doctor had found the foreign body, so we removed the loop of intestine from the abdomen before we then opened it to remove the foreign body. It was actually a intact nut that the dog must have eaten a few days, caught up in a bunch of other “stuff” that I could not identify. There were several sites in the intestines where you could see it had got stuck before moving on however here it really had not moved on. It was a case of getting it just in time as the intestines had started to have pathological changes from the blockage here with some change in colour and bruising.

We then had to close the incision we had made into the intestines, and then check the rest of the intestines for any further blockages before flushing them with sterile saline and replacing them back into the abdomen. Now the first time I saw peristalsis (muscular movement to move contents of intestines along) in equine intestines was amazing, and though peristalsis in this dog was decreased I could see all the blood vessels and the pulsing of them which really was amazing.

We closed up the abdomen and I set about recovering the patient, because it is so cold here and the rooms so large maintaining temperature is very difficult. In this case we also did not have anyone to manage it during the surgery so the body temperature had dropped down to around 34 degrees so I set about warming the patient as well. Once I had the patient up to a good temperature, and awake I relaxed a little and actually realised that I had just made a milestone in my education to become a vet.

Barely 11 hours into 2015. I put all my knowledge learnt so far to use to give a dog a chance at sharing another year with its owners. Some people like to party, and I may be old, but there is nothing like the buzz of surgery especially when your patient looks up at you afterwards and tries to wag its tail.