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Practice in the Hills of Surrey: Specializing in Orthopedics & Neurology

Padraig Egan, BVM&S, CertAVP (GSAS), MRCVS

Noel Fitzpatrick, DUniv, MVB, CertVR, DSAO, DACVSMR, MRCVS

Laurent Findji, DMV, MS, DECVS, MRCVS

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Fitzpatrick Referrals prides itself on offering state-of-the-art care to every patient, providing referral-level care for orthopedic and neurologic presentations. Our 10 specialists in surgery and neurology work on a schedule that ensures that we can offer specialist intervention when a patient needs it. With a team of 10 interns and 4 residents, management of emergency and overnight care can be offered 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Our veterinary team is supported by a dedicated night team comprising 4 veterinary nurses and 4 animal care assistants, who provide one-on-one care for patients as required. Our overall nursing staff numbers 45.

Equipment & Rehabilitation Resources

Our equipment includes a Siemens 1.5T MRI scanner, a Siemens CT scanner, state-of-the-art electromyography equipment, 2 high-definition arthroscopy systems, a piezoelectric bone cutting system, an ultrasonic bone welding platform, and an array of implant systems. We also have an extensive in-house laboratory allowing us to respond to the challenges presented by critical trauma and neurology patients swiftly and effectively. We conduct preoperative screening on all of our patients. Although opinions are polarized on this approach, it has had a huge impact in averting potential complications in our case.

We also have a large rehabilitation department with 5 full-time physiotherapists and 6 hydrotherapists. The team has access to a large hydrotherapy pool and an underwater treadmill, as well as shockwave and laser therapy equipment. The number of working agility dogs in the U.K. is steadily growing. To help evaluate these patients, the department has recently also invested in a full set of agility equipment, so owners can demonstrate the problems they are encountering with their dogs.

Caseload

Our top 3 orthopedic presentations are cruciate disease, elbow dysplasia, and hip dysplasia. What we find most worrying in our relatively narrow spectrum of case presentations is the number of canine patients under 2 years of age with end-stage elbow disease from developmental problems. Through continued client and breeder education, we hope we can make some in-roads into reducing the prevalence of this devastating condition.

The neurology team’s top 3 consultations are seizure activity, cranial nerve derangement, and disc disease. The spinal caseload is shared between the orthopedic and neurology teams with collaborative efforts ensuring the highest level of care possible, including spinal implant surgery. Our neurology team also specializes in the diagnosis and management of syringomyelia attributed to Chairi-like malformation. A significant proportion of time each week is dedicated to treating and researching this condition.

Client Attitudes

We have camera crews in the clinic for at least 6 months every year.

Our clients see their pets as members of the family, and we aim to provide the gold-standard of diagnostics, surgery, and rehabilitation that they expect. The referral market in the U.K. is volatile and we have always focused on reinvesting profits into equipment and personnel to ensure our service is at the forefront of veterinary orthopedics and neurology. The financial constraints of clients will always play a role in referral practice. We have learned that making the process of paying for a pet’s surgery as simple as possible has huge benefits for patient, client, and practice.

The clinic is also home to a TV show called The SuperVet, a documentary that focuses on the emotional roller coaster families experience as their pet is treated. Because the series airs every 6 months with 4 hour-long episodes that take 3 months to film, we have camera crews in the clinic for at least 6 months every year.

Community Activity & Image

We host an annual community event called DogFest, which draws people from across the nation to celebrate the human–animal bond. This has proven an incredible platform to raise awareness of what we do and what we stand for among dog lovers everywhere. It also provides an amazing day out for the staff, clients, referring veterinarians, as well as the general public. We invest a great deal of time producing timely, engaging website and social media content to give people an insight into the workings of the practice and the conditions we treat. By opening our doors to what goes on behind the consult-room door in this way, we aim to help build a positive perception of the clinic among the general public, clients, and referring veterinarians.

It’s real life, it’s our life, and we are intensely proud of the dedicated and committed family we are lucky to be part of at Fitzpatrick Referrals.

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This article is published as part of the Global Edition of Clinician's Brief. Through partnership with the World Small Animal Veterinary Association, the Global Edition provides educational resources to practitioners around the world.

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