BVM&S, MACVSc, FACVSC, Registered Specialist in Equine Surgery
Partner in the Victorian Equine Group
What do you like to do for fun?
Running, drinking wine
How do you spend your days off?
Not many days off since starting our own practice; but generally going to the gym, sunbathing
What do you love about lameness examinations?
I find lameness examinations interesting, as every single one is a puzzle to be solved. Every so often a thorough work up results in an unexpected result, thus keeping one motivated to always strive to solve them. I think the key for general practitioners is to be methodical and consistent in their examinations and use diagnostic analgesia as much as possible
Would you like to share any horror or hero stories from any of the procedures we will be addressing to inspire readers to assess and grow their skills? . .
I feel that joint sepsis following intra-articular medication is one of everyone’s nightmares. I would urge everyone to develop a good technique, and practise on cadavers where possible. If you have good preparation and follow all appropriate measures to prevent it, you will at least be able to go to sleep at night knowing that your poor technique is not the reason it happened. I think nothing is worse than re-playing over and over “if only I hadn’t…”
What have you learned from experience that you didn’t learn from a textbook? What practical advice would you offer fellow vets?
I have learned that even with the best practice, one does not always get an answer in lameness work-ups, which is frustrating for trainers, owners and us. Thus, I think the key before embarking on a long and expensive work up is to warn the clients that we can only try and give them an answer; in about 25% of lameness examinations we can’t give you a definitive answer; an educated opinion as to potential causes perhaps, but not always a specific diagnosis
What practical surgical tips that you learned from experience would you share with practitioners?
my best tip would be that when one is gelding horses in the field, make sure you clearly have two testicles (not just a “something”) before cutting. I think its very easy to be pressurised by experienced clients into cutting “something a bit high”, only to find yourself chasing a partial abdominal cryptorchid in the field, taking a long time, finding the horse starting to move etc. Don’t make things any harder for yourself than they need to be already. If you have a knockdown facility in your clinic, inguinal cryptorchids are not that hard; just acknowledge what it is and how it should be done before starting
Also remember that horses are not dogs and cats; if they have the opportunity to get a surgical site infection/wound breakdown/develop longstanding lameness etc they will.
What advice would you give new graduates?
Stand back and look at the basic presentation; if it looks like something common (e.g. a foot abscess), it probably is. “Common things are common”. If it’s something unusual that doesn’t “fit the bill” don’t be afraid to refer it; you learn more from that and will gain client confidence more than if the client takes it elsewhere without telling you.