UC Davis Opens Center for Advanced Veterinary Surgery

Dedicated Space for Orthopedics Will Offer More Surgery Opportunities

UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital has opened the Center for Advanced Veterinary Surgery. Veterinary surgeons and technicians stand in front of a table with surgical tools at the center, which offers state-of-the-art operating rooms for orthopedic surgeries. (UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine)
UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital has opened the Center for Advanced Veterinary Surgery. The center offers state-of-the-art operating rooms for orthopedic surgeries. (UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine)

The UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital has expanded its Orthopedic Surgery Service to open the Center for Advanced Veterinary Surgery. Modeled after human health inpatient/outpatient facilities, the center provides advanced surgical capabilities for animals suffering from injuries or disorders of the bones and joints, while increasing case volume and training capacity.

The standalone center is located just steps from the veterinary hospital and encompasses 25 rooms and 7,300 square feet of space, including three state-of-the-art operating rooms.

Due to a surge in pet ownership during the pandemic and a steady increase in caseload, the Orthopedic Surgery Service now experiences a continual demand for its high-caliber and cutting-edge services, resulting in a backlog of patients. Currently, there is a four- to six-week wait time for orthopedic surgeries to address non-life-threatening conditions. The caseload for orthopedic surgeries has steadily increased over the past 30 years and has long since reached the capacity of the hospital’s existing surgical suites. The center will address this growth and future needs for more surgery space.

“As the nation’s top-ranked veterinary school, we had a bold vision to create a state-of-the-art facility dedicated to providing life-changing surgical treatment for dogs, cats and other beloved companion animals,” said Mark Stetter, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine. “Our surgical specialists set the bar for innovative treatments, including total hip replacements with the ability to create custom, 3D-printed titanium implants if necessary. We are motivated to grow our capacity to lead a rapidly evolving field to even greater heights.”

Providing innovative care

Completed entirely with donor funds, the center will be able to help more dogs like Sky, a 2-year-old female Siberian husky treated at UC Davis. Sky’s right femur dislocated from her hip joint, which showed chronic degenerative changes. Denis Marcellin-Little, a veterinary surgeon and one of the nation’s foremost authorities on joint replacement surgeries, used a stem implant in Sky’s femur that interacts with a cup implanted in her pelvis.

Atlas, a 2-year-old male cheetoh cat (Bengal/ocicat cross), is a fearless daredevil who likes to get into mischief, always wanting to climb to the highest heights he can reach in the house. Unfortunately, his adventurousness caught up with him when he became acutely lame after jumping down from an elevated structure at home. X-rays showed a displaced fracture of the right femoral head that would require surgery. Surgeons Po-Yen Chou and Marcellin-Little performed a total hip replacement, rare in cats, based on design planning using computer-assisted 3D rather than radiograph films. Atlas is back to his normal activities, but his owners attempt to keep his former high-impact adventures to a minimum.

Performing necessary hip replacements on young animals prevents further complications later in life. UC Davis is one of few veterinary facilities in the world that routinely performs these critical procedures. The Center for Advanced Veterinary Surgery will allow clinicians to bring exceptional care to more patients like Sky and Atlas, while breaking new ground in surgical innovation.

“Beyond more space and surgical opportunities, the center will provide orthopedic surgeons with even greater access to the most innovative technologies and surgical instruments to treat patients,” said Michael Mison, chief veterinary medical officer. “It will accommodate advances in surgical instrumentation, anesthesia and monitoring equipment, and imaging equipment to support sophisticated procedures in small animals.”

Opportunities for next generation specialists

The center will also enhance opportunities for the next generation of specialists through resident and fellowship training, elevating UC Davis as the national leader in training specialists. This year, the hospital added Ming Lu, a dedicated post-residency fellow, to concentrate on orthopedic surgeries in the new center. In addition, the service’s six surgical residents will spend time training in the facility under faculty orthopedic surgeons Chou, Barbro Filliquist, Amy Kapatkin and Marcellin-Little. Along with nine registered veterinary technicians solely focused on orthopedic surgery patients, these dedicated professionals make up one of the largest orthopedic surgery teams of any veterinary hospital in the world.

“The Center for Advanced Veterinary Surgery is positioned to be a premier destination for orthopedic surgeons and pets in need of their specialized care,” said Stetter. “Through the center, our world-renowned specialists will continue to expand the reach of exceptional surgical care and forge new paths to helping companion animals enjoy optimal health.”

This state-of-the-art orthopedic surgery facility represents the beginning of a new clinical era at UC Davis, as the veterinary school expands its clinical offerings with the creation of the comprehensive Veterinary Medical Complex.

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