VCA Canada 404 Veterinary Emergency and Referral Hospital is proud to offer a specialist surgery department. In addition to obtaining their general veterinary degrees, the surgeons at the 404 have completed (at minimum) a 1-year surgical internship and a 3-year surgical residency to become eligible to sit the rigorous board examinations from the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS). In addition to ACVS board-certified surgeons, our surgery team includes anesthesiologists, highly trained registered veterinary technicians/ technologists, and surgical assistance support staff. We believe that a “successful” surgical case requires attention to detail at every stage of case management from every member of our team. With composition and dedication to animal health, we offer expertise in the most challenging of surgical cases, including:

  • Soft Tissue Surgery
    • Facial
    • Abdominal
    • Thoracic
    • Cardiovascular
    • Reproductive
    • Urinary
    • Minimally Invasive Surgery
  • Oncologic Surgery
    • Tumor removal
  • Reconstructive Surgery
    • Wound care
  • Neurological Surgery
    • Intervertebral disc ruptures
  • Orthopedic Surgery
    • Fracture repair
  • Emergency Surgery

 Our approach to surgical consultation includes:
  • Initial consultation with the surgeon and a review of the surgical techniques required, any potential complications, and anticipated outcomes and costs;

  • Accurate diagnosis using appropriate tests such as on-site blood tests, radiographs, computerized tomography (CT), arthroscopy, laparoscopy biopsy, etc;

  • Supervised anesthesia to ensure smooth induction and recovery with intensive intra-operative monitoring under the direct supervision of our experienced veterinary technicians;

  • Pre and postoperative pain management. We believe in pre-emptive and multimodal pain management;

  • Surgical procedure ensuring careful attention to aseptic technique. Our surgeons have a broad range of training and experience in a wide variety of surgical techniques;

  • 24-hour after-care to ensure appropriate pain management and postoperative management techniques are applied through the night and over the weekend;

  • Comprehensive home-care instructions upon discharge. A discharge appointment is set up to ensure that all go-home instructions are reviewed and understood. All care instructions are written down and accompany the pet parent in a discharge package;

  • Postoperative follow-up appointment booking. We like to see our cases through to successful conclusions whenever possible. Suture removal and other follow-up appointments are scheduled at the time of discharge; and

  • Finally, a day or two after being discharged, our team will make a follow-up call to ensure home recovery is going smoothly and to answer any questions or concerns if they arise.

What is minimally invasive surgery?
Minimally invasive surgery (MIS) is surgery which uses a camera and long instruments to perform surgery through small incisions. When MIS is performed in the abdominal cavity it is called laparoscopy and when it is performed in the chest (thoracic cavity) it is called thoracoscopy. Laparoscopy and thoracoscopy has been shown to result in significantly shorter hospitalization stays, less discomfort and faster recovery times in our patients.
Types of minimally invasive procedures

Many different surgeries can be performed using minimally invasive procedures, including spay, gastropexy, biopsies, tumour removal, and gall bladder removal. Some of the other more common procedures include:

  • Laparoscopic:
    • Retained testicle removal
    • Urinary bladder stone removal
    • Splenectomy
    • Hernia repair
    • Kidney removal
    • Adrenal tumour removal
  • Thoracoscopic:
    • Lung tumour removal
    • Auriculectomy
    • Pericardiectomy
    • Surgery for persistent right aortic arch
    • Surgery for chylothorax

What are common referral veterinary surgeries?
    • Tumour removal
    • Limb amputation
    • Cruciate ligament repair (TPLO’s and other traditional methods)
    • Surgical repair of elbow dysplasia
    • Spinal problems/herniated discs
    • Gastric dilatation/volvulus
    • Wound management and skin reconstruction
    • Urinary obstruction
    • Foreign body removals
What are the most common emergency surgeries?

Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (Bloat) This life-threatening disease in dogs, most commonly affects deep-chested, large or giant breed dogs. GDV, more commonly known as bloat, happens when the stomach fills up with food or gas, causing the stomach to expand. In the more life-threatening cases, the stomach will rotate or twist. When this happens, immediate medical and surgical intervention is required.

Foreign body removals A foreign body can be any household item such as kid’s toys, string, clothes (socks!) and plastic packaging that becomes lodged in the stomach. These items become an obstruction if/when they are unable to be properly digested by your pet. Dogs and cats at any life stage are susceptible to ingesting a foreign body. However, younger pets are generally more curious and prone to chew on household items. Be sure to keep an eye out for any small items that your pet could ingest. Symptoms of a foreign body obstruction include vomiting or not eating for a period of time. This can lead to dehydration and an electrolyte imbalance. Before performing surgery, hospitalization with intravenous fluids is recommended to stabilize your pet. Once stable, surgery can be performed to remove the foreign body.

Urinary Obstruction / Urolithiasis Urinary obstructions can occur in male and female cats and dogs but is most common in males. The most common cause of a urinary obstruction is bladder stones getting stuck in the urethra, preventing the passage of urine. However, obstructions can also be caused by muscle spasms in the urethra, cystitis, mucous plugs and certain cancers. If left untreated, urinary obstructions can become life-threatening.

Fracture repairs  The long bones of dogs and cats are almost identical to the bones of the legs and arms of people, and just like people, dogs and cats can break these bones due to vehicular trauma, fight with other animals, and some sporting injuries to name a few causes. Optimal healing of a fracture requires the joints above and below the fracture to be immobilized. When the fracture occurs in a location where an external bandage or cast cannot adequately immobilize these joints, the fracture must be surgically repaired. If a bone is fractured in multiple places or spirals along the length of a bone, a simple pin will not provide enough support to immobilize the fracture and allow healing. Therefore bone grafts may be required to adequately help with the healing process.

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 pet’s veterinary team (your pet’s family veterinarian, veterinary surgeon, and any other veterinary specialists involved in your pet’s care) will prescribe pain management options to ensure your pet is as comfortable as possible before, during, and after surgery. If you are concerned about pain management for your pet, please talk to your veterinarian.

Questions to ask your veterinarian

Many pet parents are increasingly seeking specialized care for their pets to secure the very best medical outcome. If your pet is facing surgery, here are some questions you may wish to ask your family 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

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