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Our Veterinary Surgery Services

Clinician performing surgery in Southwest PortlandFrom joint reconstructive surgery to tumor removal, we offer a broad scope of advanced surgical procedures for pets. Our highly experienced team has the training and hands-on background to deliver elite veterinary care with a healthy dose of compassion.

Orthopedic Surgery

Unexpected injuries such as fractures, dislocations or hereditary joint conditions may require orthopedic repair. Our veterinary surgery team has special training and equipment to treat broken bones, torn ligaments and conditions like hip and elbow dysplasia.

Some orthopedic conditions are best treated when your pet is young or before arthritis has accumulated. Early intervention and surgical correction for issues like hip and elbow dysplasia can delay the onset of osteoarthritis and increase the quality of life for many dogs.

Contact your veterinarian if you notice your pet is exhibiting potential signs of orthopedic problems such as:

  • Limping
  • Avoiding jumping or using the stairs
  • Struggling to play
  • Difficulty rising after exercise

Orthopedic Procedures for Pets

Common orthopedic procedures we perform at our hospital include:

  • Cranial cruciate ligament repair (including tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO) and extracapsular stabilization)
  • Patella (kneecap) luxation medial (MPL) or lateral (LPL)
  • Total hip replacement (THR)
  • Fracture/luxation reconstruction
  • Developmental abnormalities
  • Achilles’ tendon repair
  • Arthrodesis (joint fusion)

Minimally Invasive Surgery – Arthroscopy

Arthroscopy or “scoping” is the surgical procedure where a tiny camera is inserted into a joint to diagnose and treat joint injuries or abnormalities.

Treatments for the shoulder, elbow, knee and hock joints using this method are called “minimally invasive” as there are two or three half-inch incisions on either side of the joint.

Arthroscopy gives the surgeon a better view of the joint, which leads to a more accurate diagnosis. The treatments then cause less tissue damage, resulting in reduced pain and a quicker recovery period.

We use arthroscopy to treat the following conditions of the shoulders, elbows, knees and other joints:

  • Diagnostic evaluation through scoping
  • Osteochondrosis (OCD)
  • Biceps tendon repair
  • Fragmented coronoid processes/elbow dysplasia
  • Cruciate ligament tears
  • Meniscal injuries

The Procedure

Arthroscopy first begins with a technician placing your pet under general anesthesia. They then shave and clean the surgery site. Next, the surgeon injects the joint with a sterile saline solution and inserts the camera and instruments through two or three tiny incisions.

After the joint has been explored using the camera, the surgeon may insert small forceps or an electric shaver to remove pieces of bone or cartilage that are affecting the joint.

Many of our arthroscopy patients go home the same day as the procedure with a very short recovery period.

Soft Tissue Surgery

Soft tissue surgery for pets can help address a wide range of concerns such as tumors or hernias. We offer the following services:

  • Wound/reconstructive surgery (trauma-related injuries, scar revisions)
  • Airway repair (nares, soft palate reduction)
  • Salivary gland/mucocele removal
  • Parathyroidectomy
  • Total ear canal ablation (TECA) and bulla removal
  • Hernia repair (abdominal/inguinal and diaphragmatic)
  • Splenectomy
  • Exploratory surgery (foreign body removal, mass removal, biopsies)
  • Bladder stone removal
  • Vulvaplasty
  • Perineal urethrostomy
  • Anal gland removal
  • Spay/neuter

Oncologic Surgery

Our surgical oncology services include:

  • Biopsies (incisional and excisional)
  • Tumor/mass removal
    • Cutaneous/subcutaneous (on/under the skin)
    • Intracavitary (abdomen)
    • Oral (mandibulectomy/maxillectomy)
  • Tumor debulking
  • Palliative surgery
  • Amputation

Diagnosis

We coordinate with your pet’s primary care veterinarian to diagnose a mass. This involves taking a sample of the mass through a fine needle aspirate (FNA), either guided by ultrasound or via biopsy. These procedures often require a form of sedation.

A patient is prepared for a CT scan.

Staging

If the mass is cancerous, the next step is staging, which is where we determine if the cancer has spread (metastasized). Staging can include:

  • Lymph node aspiration
  • Lung and abdomen radiographs
  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Chest CT scan
  • The particular diagnostic tests we recommended will depend on the type of cancer.

Histopathology

When we remove a mass, it is preserved and sent out for histopathology. A clinical pathologist will diagnose the mass, grade it (identify how aggressive it is) and give us margins that tell us how much cancer-free tissue surrounds the mass. This information allows us to provide you with a prognosis that will demonstrate the chance of recurrence.

Medical Oncology and Radiation Oncology Referrals

In some cases, surgical removal of a mass is curative. If it isn’t, we will refer you to a veterinary oncologist. In Portland, your pet can see a medical oncologist for chemotherapy and palliative treatment or a radiation oncologist. We will work with your primary veterinarian to help coordinate any referrals.

Platelet Rich Plasma & Autologous Conditioned Plasma (PRP/ACP)

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and Autologous Conditioned Plasma (ACP) therapies are becoming more common in veterinary medicine. PRP/ACP is the process of concentrating a patient’s own platelets and growth factors and injecting them into a specific site to optimize healing.

PRP/ACP treatment may be beneficial for pets with:

  • Torn tendons in knees, shoulders or elbows
  • Joint inflammation
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Fractures
  • Joint replacements
  • Fused joints
  • Wound therapy

How Does PRP/ACP for Pets Work?

To start the process, a technician collects a small sample of blood from your pet using a specialized syringe. The syringe is then processed in a specialized centrifuge that separates the plasma (which contains the platelets/growth factors) from the red blood cells.

Next, the injury site is shaved and cleaned with antiseptic. Finally, the surgeon injects the PRP/ACP into the injury site. Some pets may receive a local anesthetic for the injection.

PRP/ACP injections are performed on an outpatient basis, and the entire process takes less than 30 minutes. This treatment uses the patient’s own blood and natural healing properties, so it is extremely safe.

Anesthesia/Analgesia

We take many precautions to make sure that our patients experience safe and predictable anesthesia. Prior to an anesthetic procedure, patients are thoroughly examined by the surgeon.

A large dog waiting patiently for blood to be drawn.

Lab work is generally recommended based on your pet’s age. For our older patients, we recommend CBC (complete blood count), total body blood chemistry and urinalysis tests. Abnormal values in any of these laboratory tests will shape what anesthetics/analgesics we use. The doctor may also recommend chest radiographs if your pet has had a history of heart or lung disease or a potentially cancerous mass.

Pets that are truly high risk due to diseases such as heart disease, renal failure or diabetes can still undergo anesthesia but may need additional testing such as an echocardiogram or abdominal ultrasound to fully evaluate their risk.

Your Pet’s Anesthesia Experience

Our team uses a multimodal approach to anesthesia and analgesia. We combine drugs to maximize effectiveness and minimize side effects. Every patient receives medications for pain that reduce the amount of anesthesia needed for the procedure. Often, these medications are given on a continuous drip during the surgery.

We also use local anesthetics like nerve blocks to maximize a pet’s comfort while reducing the amount of anesthesia and analgesia used during surgery and postoperatively. The anesthesia and analgesia agents we use are the same quality of drugs that are used in human hospitals.

Many of our patients are placed on a ventilator to ensure adequate respiration while they are anesthetized. Our anesthesia team uses advanced monitoring equipment to closely observe your pet’s vitals, including:

  • Electrocardiogram-heart rhythm (ECG)
  • Heart rate
  • Blood-oxygen level
  • Blood pressure
  • Carbon dioxide emission
  • Body temperature

They also continuously monitor how deeply your pet is “under” and adjust accordingly.

Having an experienced, licensed and skilled team member responsible for anesthesia ensures that your pet will be as safe as possible and any problems that arise will be quickly identified and addressed.

Frequently Asked Post-Operative Questions

The post-operative period is very important to the overall outcome of your pet’s surgery. If you have any additional questions, you can reach us at 503.292.0931.Clinician with a patient at the Southwest Portland hospital.

Can I send pictures of my pet’s surgical site to make sure it is healing properly?

Yes! You can email pictures to us and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. If it is the weekend and you are concerned, please contact your pet’s primary veterinarian or seek care at an emergency veterinary hospital.

What should I do if my pet is constipated?

Anesthesia and pain medications can slow down the digestive process, so some pets may not defecate for a few days after surgery. Fasting before surgery may also contribute to constipation.

Pumpkin is a natural laxative, so adding pureed or canned pumpkin (without additives like high fructose corn syrup or sugar) to your pet’s food can help encourage bowel movement.

If your pet is still straining to defecate or showing signs of constipation, please call our office for further instructions and recommendations.

What should I do if my pet is not urinating?

Most of our patients receive intravenous (IV) fluids during surgery and leave the hospital well hydrated. If your pet is not urinating on walks at home, they may not be drinking enough water or could be having undiscovered accidents (please check all bedding thoroughly).

If they have not urinated for 24 hours, but they are drinking and all their bedding is dry, please give us a call. A reluctance or inability to urinate could be due to something like post-op pain medication, but we need to identify the cause.

What should I do if my pet is not eating?

It is not unusual for post-operative patients to avoid eating for 24 hours after surgery. If they are still not eating after this period, you can try to give them nutritious treats or food, but please call our office to let us know. Inappetence can be a sign of nausea or pain, and we want to ensure your pet is comfortable during their recovery.

What should I do if my pet has diarrhea or is vomiting?

If your pet experiences vomiting or diarrhea, please notify our office. If we are not open, please reach out to your primary care veterinarian’s office. If the situation is urgent, please take your pet to the nearest emergency veterinary hospital.

We recommend discontinuing specific medications if vomiting or diarrhea occurs. Please check your pet’s medication labels and discharge instructions and discontinue those medications until you have spoken with a veterinarian.

How do I know if my pet is in pain?

Some pets will let you know they are in pain through whining, crying or restlessness. More subtle signs of pain can include lethargy, excessive licking, panting, decreased appetite and hiding. If you think your pet is uncomfortable, please let us know so we can help.

How can I prevent my pet from licking and/or chewing their incision?

The single most effective way to ensure your pet leaves the surgical site alone is to keep an e-collar or inflatable collar on them at all times during recovery.

We’ve found that methods like shirts or bitter sprays aren’t effective, and a pet can very quickly pull out sutures or lick the area, which can lead to an infection. If your pet can reach the incision while wearing an e-collar or inflatable collar, we will need to refit them with one that prevents them from reaching the area.

Do I need to wake up in the middle of the night to give medications?

Many of the medications we prescribe are given every 8-12 hours or up to three times a day. If your pet received medications in the middle of the night while hospitalized, you can adjust the dosing times to a schedule that is more convenient for you, such as before bed, in the early morning and afternoon/evening.

Once home, it is most important to keep the timing consistent, so your pet always has the medications in their system.

What is the best way to get my pet to take medication? What if I still cannot get them to take pills?

We recommend administering pills in a sticky substance like cream cheese or peanut butter, or in a high-value treat such as a hot dog or meatball. Pill Pocket treats also work for some pets.

If these suggestions do not work, we recommend physically giving your pet the medication. This is done by placing the pill as far back on their tongue as possible and gently keeping their mouth closed while stroking their throat until you feel or see the swallowing movement. If your pet licks their nose, it is also a sign of them swallowing. We recommend trying this process first with a tiny piece of kibble or food roughly the size of the medication to avoid wasting any pills. Our technicians can also demonstrate this process for you.

If you are still unable to get your pet to swallow the medication, we may be able to have the medication compounded into a liquid. Note that not all medications can be compounded. It takes a couple of days for the medications to be made and delivered and is generally more expensive than pills. If you think it will be easier to get your pet to swallow a liquid, please let us know and we can investigate ordering compounded medications for them.

When can I expect my pet to be walking on their leg entirely?

They will likely be toe-touching and lightly using their leg when they leave the hospital. You should see a gradual increase in prolonged use of the leg over the next one to two weeks. In most cases, we see consistent use of the leg by the two-week recheck appointment.

When can my pet have a bath?

Bathing after surgery is at the surgeon’s discretion. Make sure to ask about bathing at your pet’s recheck appointments, and only give them a bath when you are told it is okay to do so. Unfortunately, this may not be until after they have fully recovered. You can purchase “dry” shampoo at the pet store or use hypoallergenic baby wipes for spot cleaning in the interim.