Mar 012005
Authors: Clarke Reader

CSU's College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is widely known as one of the top veterinary institutions in the country, and the influence spreads across the Atlantic Ocean to England.

Members of the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital got a chance to share their knowledge of open-heart surgery for dogs at the Royal Veterinary College in London, when the case of Monty, a 6-year-old Rhodesian ridgeback, came up.

"Monty had a congenital heart defect," said Dr. Chris Orton, professor of cardiology and cardio surgery. "One of the heart valves was malformed and leaky. It puts the dog in danger of heart failure."

Orton met Dr. Dan Brockman, Monty's veterinarian, many years before Monty's case, and Brockman wanted to start a cardiac surgery program at the London veterinary college.

"We talked about the case in a conference in Paris in October of '04," Orton said. "He was interested in starting open-heart surgery in Europe."

Members of the CSU team that went to London included Dr. Khursheed Mama, anesthesiologist; Amy Rodriquez, anesthesia technician; Dr. Tim Hackett, critical care; Michelle Pullaro, scrub nurse; Dave Peterson, perfusionist; and Orton as the lead surgeon.

"The first goal was to help Monty to replace the defective valve with an artificial one," Orton said. "We also used the opportunity to train them in surgery."

Everyone on the team had different jobs during the surgery, as well as helping to train the Royal Veterinary College staff members in their techniques.

"I worked with the nurses and residents and stayed up all night for two nights monitoring things like heartbeat," said Tim Hackett, service chief of emergency and critical care medicine.

The operation was a success, and Monty is doing fine now.

"It went very smoothly," said Michelle Pullaro, surgery technician. "Wonderful recovery time, the dog went home in four days. I would definitely recommend the treatment, but the issue is cost. If cost is not a deterrent, it's an excellent surgery."

Beside the first goal of helping to save Monty's life, another benefit was the chance to teach the RVC staff.

"It was fun sharing all the problems we've had in the past doing these surgeries," Hackett said.

Technical expertise was not the only thing gained during the trip.

"I learned how valuable what we have to offer at CSU is to the world," Pullaro said. "I never knew what an impact we had."

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