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What's New In Veterinary Medicine
by Dr. Joe Cortese

Since I graduated from veterinary school thirty years ago, there have been tremendous advances in the treatment of our companion animals. I thought it would be interesting to highlight some of those more dramatic breakthroughs.

Parasite Control: For those of you that have had pets for many years I'm sure that you remember the old days of flea powders, dips, shampoos, bombs, etc...Probably one of the greatest innovations to come along has been the advent of the once-a-month pills and topical applications for fleas and other parasites. Advantage and Frontline are two revolutionary products that are applied topically on a monthly basis and are extremely effective at killing adult fleas for at least one month. In addition, Frontline is also effective against ticks. These two topical agents are joined by Sentinel, a once-a-month pill that prevents heartworms, whipworms, roundworms, hookworms and aids in the control of the flea life cycle. For our feline friends, Program, which renders fleas sterile, is now available as an injection that lasts for six months! If your pet is not on one of these products, I would suggest a visit to your veterinarian before the flea season starts this spring.

New Technology: Some of the most exciting advances in veterinary medicine have come in the area of diagnostic imaging, It is now common for general small animal veterinary hospitals to have ultrasound machines. In animals, ultrasound is often used to evaluate the heart and measure its function. In addition, abdominal organs can be evaluated for disease and biopsied under the guidance of the ultrasound machine. This technology has in many instances eliminated the need for exploratory surgery, CAT scans, MRI exams can also be obtained at several locations in Southern California. In the area of blood analysis, most small animal hospitals now have complete "in house" labs so that blood work can be run and the results obtained within minutes.

Anesthesia & Monitoring: Thanks to recent advances in anesthesia monitoring equipment and newer agents and techniques, the incidence of anesthetic reactions has been greatly reduced. It is now common practice to monitor our patients with pulse oximetry, which detects oxygen saturation in the blood. In addition, dopplers are often used to monitor pulse quality and blood pressure. EKG's are often employed as well as CO2 breathing monitors. Coupled with these advances in monitors there have been numerous new anesthetic agents developed over the last 10 years. New state-of-the-art agents include Isoflurane gas and Propofol for anesthetic induction. Even tranquilizers have been improved and now come with agents to reverse their effects so pets don't need to leave the hospital in a drugged state.

Surgery: In the area of surgical advancements probably the greatest strides have been made in orthopedics and the management of hip dysplasia, a procedure called a triple pelvic ostectomy can be performed. In this surgery the pelvis is cut and rotated so that the ball of the hip fits snugly into the socket. In more advanced cases a totla hip replacement is performed. Just like in people a completely artificial joint made from metal is implanted. This surgery has been greatly perfected over the years and now represents a real alternative for the dog crippled with hip dysplasia.

Veterinary Specialist: Thirty years ago veterinary specialization was in its infancy. Almost all board-certified specialists were found in universities. Now veterinarians can become specialized in surgery, internal medicine, radiology, opthamology, cardiology, oncology and even general practice by the species that they work on! Many specialists are now found in private practice and work closely with your family veterinarian on those difficult-to-manage cases.

In conclusion, it is easy to see that the quality of medicine and surgery available to our pets has become very sophisticated. The real winner in this has been our pets and the quality of care that they receive

Copyright 2002 Purpose Media and Dr. Joe Cortese. No unauthorized duplication without written consent.



Dr. Joe Cortese

Capistrano Veterinary Clinic


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