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Success Continues with Minimally Invasive Procedures at UC Davis

June 15, 2016

The new Interventional Radiology Surgery Suite at UC Davis is complete with all new equipment.

The new Interventional Radiology Surgery Suite at UC Davis is complete with all new equipment.

With the advancement of equipment, techniques and facilities, the Soft Tissue Surgery Service at the UC Davis veterinary hospital continues to see success with its minimally invasive surgeries.  In 2015, the hospital opened the Interventional Radiology (IR) Surgery Suite in its Small Animal Clinic. The suite, complete with all new equipment, elevates the types of surgeries the service is able to perform, as well as the quality and effectiveness of those surgeries. Performing as many as 10 IR procedures a week, UC Davis has the largest IR caseload of any teaching hospital.

IR is a specialty in veterinary medicine that utilizes imaging modalities (fluoroscopy, ultrasound and computed tomography) to perform minimally invasive procedures for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. IR techniques can be used to treat a myriad of diseases, and these procedures often allow potential treatments in cases that may have previously been thought to be without options.

The history of IR is short, beginning in the early- to mid-2000s at the University of Pennsylvania. UC Davis surgeons Drs. Bill Culp, Philipp Mayhew, and Michele Steffey were all part of that team at Penn, and brought that knowledge to Davis to position the hospital as a world leader in veterinary IR. The program continues to evolve and grow.

IR is currently being utilized for the treatment of intrahepatic portosystemic shunts, ureteral obstructions, esophageal obstructions, intravascular foreign bodies and many other conditions. Being minimally invasive procedures, the surgeries allow patients to recover quicker and offer much better expectancy outcomes than invasive surgeries. The ever advancing IR procedures have opened up an entirely new area of medicine that did not exist less than one generation before.

One minimally invasive procedure advancing at UC Davis is treating blockages of the nasolacrimal apparatus (NLA). Now, thanks to advances in equipment, technique and teamwork, clinicians from UC Davis’ Ophthalmology, Internal Medicine, Soft Tissue Surgery, Anesthesia/Critical Patient Care, and Diagnostic Imaging Services are seeing unprecedented success treating NLA blockages in multiple species. With cameras now small enough to fit into the tiny drainage ducts, clinicians utilize endoscopy (as well as computed tomography and fluoroscopy) to identify and bypass or remove NLA obstructions. Whether the obstructions are caused by a partially scarred duct or a foreign body such as a foxtail, stents can be placed in the duct from eye to nose.
To date, UC Davis has treated several dozen dogs, cats and horses with this pioneering procedure that now offers a minimally invasive alternative to referring veterinarians who have been faced with treating NLA obstructions using conventional (and often more invasive) methods.
UC Davis continues to evaluate this procedure in a clinical trial in hopes of determining if it will become the standard-of-care for an extremely frustrating disease complex.

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About the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital
The William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at the University of California, Davis—a unit of the #1 world ranked School of Veterinary Medicine—provides state-of-the-art clinical care while serving as the primary clinical teaching experience for DVM students and post graduate veterinarian residents. The VMTH treats more than 51,000 animals a year, ranging from cats and dogs to horses, cows and exotic species. To learn more about the VMTH, please go to Timely news updates can be received on its Facebook ( and Twitter ( pages.

Media Contact:
Rob Warren
VMTH Communications & Marketing Officer