Orthopedics Expands Services with New Clinician

Doctor explaining to patientsWith the addition of a fourth faculty member, the Orthopedics Service in the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) has made updates that have allowed the team to serve more clients, enhance services they currently offer, and continue to make advancements in cutting-edge procedures.

Since the arrival of Dr. Kate Barnes earlier this year, orthopedics has moved to a two-doctor service that allows the team to see more patients more frequently, reducing wait times.

“We are seeing appointments almost every day of the week,” said Dr. Brian Saunders, associate professor of orthopedics at the VMTH’s Small Animal Hospital (SAH). “We are doing surgery almost every day a week. For our referring veterinarians, this means easier access and shorter wait times for clients.”

The orthopedics team offers cutting-edge procedures such as  minimally invasive joint surgery (arthroscopy), total and partial joint replacement, minimally invasive fracture repair, and treatment of limb deformities.

“Instead of having to make big, open approaches and look at the whole (broken) bone, through our minimally invasive techniques, we can make small portals and realign the bone and slide implants underneath the skin; that’s the way things are going in human trauma, and we can offer that here,” Saunders said. “The advantage of that is improved recovery and faster healing. That’s one of the surgeries that sets us apart.”

Through the service’s implants systems, surgeons are able to do joint replacements on dogs of all sizes.

“It’s important to realize that small animal joint replacement technology has changed tremendously over the past 10 years. In the past, implants were secured with bone cement and it was common to wait until dogs were middle age or older to perform a joint replacement,” Saunders said. “With current biologic implant systems that rely on bone ingrowth instead of cement, we are able to perform joint replacement on dogs as young as 8-10 months of age with confidence that the implant systems will last a lifetime. Additionally, we now have implant systems available for dogs of all sizes; we perform micro total hips on dogs as small as 4.5 pounds.”

In their efforts to advance orthopedic surgical procedures, the team is working to make the SAH one of eight to 10 centers in the country that can offer total ankle replacements, in addition to being able to perform elbow replacements.

“We are always continuing to focus on advances in our joint replacement program, and we also are working to establish new treatments for CCL ruptures in pet and athletic dogs,” he said. “We also innovatively treat a lot of limb deformities using advanced planning and 3D printing solutions.

“We really want our referring veterinarians to know we’ve harnessed additional faculty, technician, and house officer resources to drastically shorten wait times while continuing to offer the same high-level of care and pushing the envelope of innovation,” he said.

Patients are seen by the VMTH’s orthopedic services only by referral from a primary care veterinarian. For more information on those services, call the SAH at 979-845-2351.