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Outcomes of elective gonadectomy procedures performed on dogs and cats by veterinary students and shelter veterinarians in a shelter environment

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  • 1 Animal Health Institute, College of Veterinary Medicine, Midwestern University, Glendale, AZ 85308.
  • | 2 Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104.
  • | 3 Animal Health Institute, College of Veterinary Medicine, Midwestern University, Glendale, AZ 85308.
  • | 4 Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To determine complication rates for elective gonadectomy procedures performed by veterinary students on dogs and cats in an animal shelter, characterize these complications, and compare rates with those for shelter-employed veterinarians (SEVs).

DESIGN Retrospective cohort study.

ANIMALS 10,073 dogs and cats for which gonadectomy was performed by a veterinary student (n = 3,048 surgeries) or SEV (7,025 surgeries) at an urban animal shelter over a 16-month period.

PROCEDURES Electronic medical records for included dogs and cats were reviewed and data collected regarding patient signalment, duration of gonadectomy, surgeon type (student or SEV), and types of surgical complications recorded (including death or euthanasia) during the period from anesthetic induction to 72 hours after surgery. Complication and mortality rates were compared between veterinary students and SEVs.

RESULTS No significant differences were identified between students and SEVs regarding rates of overall complications for both species, minor complications for both species, major complications for both species, and overall complications for dogs or cats specifically. The most common complications were self-limiting, with no long-term consequences, for both students and SEVs. Differences in mortality rates between students and SEVs could not be definitively determined owing to low numbers of nonsurviving patients.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE With judicious case selection and as a part of a surgical training program, complication rates for veterinary student–performed gonadectomy procedures for dogs and cats were no different from those for SEV-performed gonadectomy procedures. We believe such information regarding patient outcomes will allow shelter staff to make informed decisions and help them in discussions with stakeholders who may have concerns about student participation.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To determine complication rates for elective gonadectomy procedures performed by veterinary students on dogs and cats in an animal shelter, characterize these complications, and compare rates with those for shelter-employed veterinarians (SEVs).

DESIGN Retrospective cohort study.

ANIMALS 10,073 dogs and cats for which gonadectomy was performed by a veterinary student (n = 3,048 surgeries) or SEV (7,025 surgeries) at an urban animal shelter over a 16-month period.

PROCEDURES Electronic medical records for included dogs and cats were reviewed and data collected regarding patient signalment, duration of gonadectomy, surgeon type (student or SEV), and types of surgical complications recorded (including death or euthanasia) during the period from anesthetic induction to 72 hours after surgery. Complication and mortality rates were compared between veterinary students and SEVs.

RESULTS No significant differences were identified between students and SEVs regarding rates of overall complications for both species, minor complications for both species, major complications for both species, and overall complications for dogs or cats specifically. The most common complications were self-limiting, with no long-term consequences, for both students and SEVs. Differences in mortality rates between students and SEVs could not be definitively determined owing to low numbers of nonsurviving patients.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE With judicious case selection and as a part of a surgical training program, complication rates for veterinary student–performed gonadectomy procedures for dogs and cats were no different from those for SEV-performed gonadectomy procedures. We believe such information regarding patient outcomes will allow shelter staff to make informed decisions and help them in discussions with stakeholders who may have concerns about student participation.

Supplementary Materials

    • Supplementary Table S1 (PDF 111 kb)
    • Supplementary Table S2 (PDF 109 kb)

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to Dr. Kreisler (rkreis@midwestern.edu).