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Orthopaedics

Gareth Harries achieved the Royal College Certificate in Small Animal Surgery in 2005. Whilst not being classed as a ‘specialist’ this advanced qualification was achieved by studying surgery at a great depth and demonstrating his knowledge and skills with a casebook of his work, and then written, oral and practical examinations.

As well as dealing with cases from our own branches and within the hospital, cases are also dealt with for other local practices. Commonly, Gareth is involved in identifying the cause of lameness in patients.

A great knowledge of breed variations and susceptibilities helps direct investigations. Initially, just like any other problem, we start with history of how it started, how it varies and when it is worst. Then we will move on to examination when an awful lot may be evident from the feel of joints, and limbs before imaging techniques such as x-rays are called for. Fluid from joints is also used to help localise and diagnose problems. The fluid is obtained under surgical conditions and sent to specialist cytologists for their opinion.

Common problems are those involving the knee or stifle joint. The cruciate ligament in dogs is a very common problem. Rather than it becoming damaged as a result of exercise, it is mainly a problem that occurs because of degeneration. In effect, the design of the dog is at fault and these ligaments rupture because of the stress upon them.

Numerous techniques are available to attend to the problem, none of which actually repair the ligament. These days, we mainly address the shape of the joint  by changing the shin bone or tibia.

Gareth has attended the official TTA (Tibial Tuberosity Advancement) course in addition to doing the less well known Triple Tibial Osteotomies and Tibial Wedge Osteotomies. The TTA is considered to be amongst the most successful surgeries worldwide. It uses a specially designed titanium plate providing great strength and allowing patients a speedy recovery.  A download about the surgery is can be found on the downloads page.

Accident prone pets are in safe hands at Wright and Morten where they’ll receive care from experienced nurses and a surgeon with great experience in treating all manner of bone fractures and skin injuries, such as Jacob, who smashed his shin bone, or Poppy, who broke her pelvis.

Other challenges may be to attend to growth deformities such as Wilma whose wrist was affected by the uneven way that the two bones in her foreleg had grown.

Other techniques available to us include an arthroscope also allows us to examine the interior surface of joints such as the elbow and the shoulder in order to identify and treat some of the numerous conditions that can affect young growing dogs.

Fixing the patient with surgery is usually only part of the process of recovery and we make sure owners have instructions to help them provide their pet with the right level of exercise during recouperation. This might also involve providing physio yourself, and we might also call in the services of a qualified animal physiotherapist to assist  and ensure that patients can return to as full & active a life as possible.

More information about cruciate injuries and other growth problems such as hip dysplasia are available on the downloads page.

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