Traditionally, veterinary surgery was described either as soft tissue surgery or orthopaedic surgery. But veterinary surgery is much more than just that.
Soft tissue surgery is a major discipline, tightly connected to internal medicine and heavily supported by diagnostics. Two typical fields managed by soft tissue surgeons are abdominal and thoracic surgery. The procedures that are most commonly performed in abdominal surgery involve the removal of foreign bodies or tumours of the gastrointestinal tract or tumours of the liver and gallbladder, treatment of surgical urogenital diseases (e.g., ovarian tumours, pyometra, urinary tract stones), and the repair of congenital or acquired hernias (e.g., diaphragmatic hernia, inguinal hernia, umbilical hernia, perineal hernia). Thoracic surgery is most commonly performed to repair congenital vascular defects, and to remove thoracic wall or lung or mediastinal neoplasia. The soft tissue surgeon will also deal with wound management, a commonly observed problem in veterinary medicine. Other important subspecialties of soft tissue surgery are surgical upper respiratory tract diseases and ear, nose and throat diseases.
Oncologic surgery combines knowledge of surgery and oncology. An oncologic surgeon is familiar with the biological behaviour of tumours and works closely with a team including the medical oncologist and the radiation oncologist to provide a multimodal approach to the treatment of cancer. Oncologic surgery heavily relies on advanced imaging techniques, such as CT , and an excellent anatomy knowledge of the oncologic surgeon for proper surgical planning. The oncologic surgeon must be familiar with tissues that serve as barriers and are more resistant to cancer spread and that must be removed together with the tumour to achieve the complete removal of it and prevent recurrence. For an optimal functional and cosmetic outcome of a surgical procedure, an oncologic surgeon also knows the principles of plastic and reconstructive surgery.
Plastic and reconstructive surgery deals with the reconstruction of tissue and body defects that are the consequence of large wounds, including following the removal of large tumours. The aim of plastic and reconstructive surgery is the closure of defects without tension in the wound for the best possible functional and cosmetic outcome. To achieve this, tissue flaps are used, which means that tissues are harvested in areas with tissue abundance (donor site) and transferred to areas with a lack of healthy tissues (recipient site). The creation of tissue flaps is a kind of art, in which a surgeon's knowledge of the principles of plastic and reconstructive surgery is combined with his or her imagination and creativity.
Oral and maxillofacial surgery involves procedures such as dental extractions, but also large jaw resections due to oral tumours, repair of jaw fractures and other traumatic injuries of the maxillofacial region, repair of congenital and acquired palatal defects, and treatment of sialoceles. However, before attempting any oral and maxillofacial surgery, each patient will be seen by a dentist to ensure proper preparation of the oral cavity for the best surgical outcome.
Orthopaedic surgery deals with diseases of the musculoskeletal system – an important discipline in veterinary medicine. Trauma to the musculoskeletal system is common in dogs and cats; the procedures most commonly performed are related to the rupture of the cruciate ligament in dogs, hip-and-elbow dysplasia, and intervertebral disc herniation.
For every surgical procedure, great support from diagnostics, anaesthesia and post-operative (intensive) care is needed and provided at Animal Hospital Postojna.