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Vet Gazette

Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine eNewsletter

Veterinary Surgery Resident Looks Back On A Very Busy Year

January 21st, 2015
In 2013, Dr. Jennifer Ree (bottom right) helped surgically deliver ten puppies whose mother was in distress.

Dr. Jennifer Ree (bottom right) helped deliver, via Caesarean, ten puppies whose mother was in distress.

By Dr. Jennifer Ree

In my first 18 months as a small animal surgery resident at Oregon State University, I’ve had many amazing learning experiences. My mentors at OSU have challenged me daily to widen and cultivate my knowledge, as well as improve my surgical and clinical skills. I have also partici­pated in ongoing studies within our surgery group, and have started my own prospective randomized clinical trial as part of my Master’s program.

My clinical duties also kept me fully engaged. Since we are a tertiary referral hospital, we are challenged with many cases that are “out of the norm.” Our soft tissue surgery service performs procedures in conjunction with our cardiology service and oncology service. We have performed a number of pulmonary artery banding cases with cardiology present with transesophageal echocardio­gram to evaluate the accuracy of our partial ligation. Our oncology service has been gifted a new Intrabeam intraoperative radiation therapy unit that delivers radiation as high as 3-6Gy to the tissues directly in contact with the radiation probe after marginal resections of otherwise inoperable tumors in the maxilla or mandible.

My mentor, Dr. Wendy Baltzer, is double-boarded in surgery and in the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation, so I have been able to see a wide variety of sports medicine cases as well. Being coached in this aspect of orthopedics broadens my ability to participate actively in the postoperative care of many orthopedic cases. I have always had a love for rehabilitation, with all aspects of surgery involving wound management, chronic orthopedic disease, and recovery from neurologic deficits. This exposure has solidified my desire to maintain rehabilitation as part of my career.

One of the most memorable cases I had that challenged my knowledge and skills involved a 6-month-old Miniature Australian Shepherd puppy with severe valvular pulmonic stenosis. The stenosis was unable to be corrected minimally invasively and a pericardial patch graft was recommended. Our anesthesia, soft tissue, and cardiology services planned for this surgery meticulously. And while the stenosis remained four months after surgery, we collectively performed this procedure without morbidity to the patient. My main role was to communicate between the three services involved, and lay out the procedure in a step-by-step fashion so that we would all be accurately prepared to play our roles and communicate effectively in the surgical suite. This solidified my resolve to remain calm and prepared for every surgical procedure, from the routine ovariectomy to the challenging venotomy for a right-sided adrenalectomy.

The absence of a neurologist at our institution has allowed me to participate in a number of neurologic surgeries that most small animal surgical residents do not. While we have not performed craniotomies during my time here, I have still had the opportunity to participate in many types of spinal surgeries. In the last few months alone, I have performed about seven solo hemilaminectomies for inter­vertebral disc herniations and have had successful results in all so far. This has become one of my favorite surgeries.

For my Master’s thesis, I will be studying the use of free autogenous greater omental grafts as an augmentation for bone healing in fracture repair. We are conducting a prospective randomized clinical trial enrolling 24 toy breed dogs with radius and ulna fractures. So far, we have enrolled 10 dogs and are awaiting further grant awards to continue recruit­ment from local veterinary hospitals and the Oregon Humane Society in Portland.

In conjunction with this thesis, I am in the process of completing a retrospective study evaluating the results following arthrodesis of the tarsus or carpus with and without free autogenous greater omental grafts. My preliminary data was accepted and presented at the 17th annual European Society for Veterinary Orthopaedics and Traumatology this past October. It was an experience that I will never forget and fulfilled one of my life-long dreams in visiting Italy.

My experience at OSU these past 18 months have provided me with a wide base of surgical cases and expanded my knowledge base. We have weekly journal club meetings, and twice-weekly book club meetings and presentations. Our journal club allows us to stay abreast of the most recent articles and revisit previous topics for discussion. Our book club rounds are incorporated into our master’s program and allow us to review our ACVS required reading and leaves room for morbidity and mortality rounds, faculty presentations, and mock board examinations.

The next 18 months will be dedicated to completing my retrospective study on arthrodesis in dogs, completing my master’s project, fulfilling the remaining out-rotations with emergency/critical care, anesthesia, and radiology, and performing more kick-ass surgeries with my resident-mates and faculty mentors. Besides my studies and clinical work, I’ve had an amazing time at OSU in building life-long friendships, creating new memories, and starting new adventures.

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