Students get unique learning experience in new surgery technique

Students at wet lab

Dr. Scott Rose, at far left, instructs four fourth-year veterinary medical students, Alexandra Fitz, Paige Garrett, Lisa Andresen and Steven Bingert, during the lab. (Photo courtesy of Josephine Dornbusch)

Members of the UF veterinary medical student surgery club recently participated in a unique learning experience through which they gained hands-on experience in a new surgical technique being used to repair dislocated hips in dogs.

At the request of UF’s chapter of the Student Association of Veterinary Surgeons, veterinarians from Maryland and Miami associated with Arthrex, an orthopedic medical device company, came to Gainesville on Feb. 13 to demonstrate and teach the method, known as the “tightrope technique,” to as many as 30 eager students.

The event included a wet lab, a dry lab and a lecture component.

“The technique we learned is used to repair persistent coxofemoral luxation, or hip dislocation,” said Josie Dornbusch, a second-year student and president-elect of the club.”This condition can be caused by a number of factors, but is most commonly caused by trauma.”

Surgery club at work

Veterinary medical students Ashton Story, ’17, and Mary Rentfrow, ’18, were among the participants in the wet lab. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Matt Johnson)

Ideally, the luxation can be reduced and the femur placed back into the hip socket, but sometimes this is not possible, she said.

“Because of this, surgical intervention is sometimes needed to make the patient more comfortable and to allow them to have full use of the leg again,” Dornbusch added.

The tightrope technique is a newer technique not yet commonly used in general veterinary practice, she said.

In cases of persistent coxofemoral luxation, a ligament that normally holds the head of the femur in the socket of the hip becomes damaged. The new technique acts to mimic the ligament of the femoral head and serves to hold the femur in place in its proper anatomical location, allowing the patient the time it needs to heal properly with the hip in its natural conformation, Dornbusch said.

“Thus far, patients seem to respond well to this surgical technique and often return to normal function quickly,” Dornbusch said.

Surgery club at work

Third-year veterinary medical students Kevin Garbizo and Alec Sherman were among the participants in the wet lab. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Matt Johnson)

Students were able to learn the details of the procedure as well as its applications, and then to perform the procedure themselves on both a model hip and a cadaver hip. They also were able to handle power drills, guide wires and Arthrex’s tightrope devices.

“It was a unique opportunity to see some of the more recent advancements in veterinary surgery first hand,” Dornbusch said.


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