Advanced Techniques & Specialist Procedures

Advanced Techniques & Specialist Procedures

Since its establishment as the first veterinary school in the English-speaking world, the RVC has pioneered new veterinary techniques and procedures. We are at the forefront of advancements in veterinary surgery and medicine. Many treatments that our leading specialists pioneer eventually become established in veterinary services around the world, benefiting animals everywhere.

Advanced Technique

Cardiothoracic Surgery

The RVC is Europe's leading centre for pet heart surgery, having been at the forefront for more than a decade.

The first open heart surgery at the RVC took place in 2005. It was performed by Professor of Small Animal Surgery Dan Brockman. In 2016, the RVC became the first veterinary service in the world to successfully treat a dog's stenotic (narrowed) tricuspid valve with open heart surgery. The Labrador patient, Mabel, suffered from congenital tricuspid dysplasia. Dysplasia of the tricuspid valve can cause either leakage of blood or stenosis.

Heart valve dysplasia can affect the aortic, pulmonary, mitral or tricuspid valves of the heart. The most common one to affect dogs is mitral valve disease and the RVC is one of a few centres in world to correct the condition with surgery.

Expansion of capacity

In spring 2017, the RVC quadrupled its capacity to perform canine mitral valve surgeries, by creating key new roles. Though it is one of the most prevalent heart defects in dogs, mitral valve disease is still primarily managed medically, though for human patients surgery is now the standard therapy.

Surgery can offer dogs a much better quality of life and a longer life. It can also improve the quality of life for owners, as owners of dogs with mitral valve disease often have had to change their lifestyle to ensure they can give the dog the medication required at the necessary time intervals. Therefore, reducing the number of medications and the frequency of medications dog receives makes life easier for owners.

Expanding the RVC's mitral valve programme has many benefits for both undergraduate veterinary students and postgraduate senior clinical training scholars (residents). Undergraduates will see more dogs with mitral valve disease and, as a result, gain a better understanding of how to treat it medically. Residents will be exposed to the advanced cardiology aspects, the advanced surgical aspects and the critical care components these animals need after surgery.

We are able to offer treatment for a wide range of congenital as well as acquired heart diseases and are always happy to discuss potential cases. For further enquiries please contact the team at: qmhaheartsurgery@rvc.ac.uk.

For further information please read the Open Heart Surgery Information Sheet (PDF).