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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To determine the contributions of veterinarians and support staff to revenue and veterinarian productivity (ie, number of patients seen/full-time–equivalent veterinarian/wk) in private mixed and companion animal practices in the US and identify staff-to-veterinarian labor ratios (SVLRs) that maximized these 2 practice outputs.

SAMPLE

409 owners of mixed and companion animal practices who participated in the 2020 AVMA Practice Owner Survey.

PROCEDURES

Data regarding owner demographics, practice characteristics, labor (defined as mean total hours worked/wk), and gross revenue in 2019 were obtained from participating practices. Multivariable ordinary least-squares regression was used to identify factors associated with revenue and productivity as well as the SVLRs at which revenue and productivity were maximized.

RESULTS

For each 10% increase in total veterinarian hours worked per week, revenue increased by a mean of approximately 9%. A 1-unit increase in total number of technician hours used to support 1 hour of veterinarian work was associated with a 20.5% increase in revenue but with no change in productivity. The same increase in total number of nonmedical staff hours was associated with a 17.0% increase in revenue and 14.4% increase in productivity. In terms of revenue, the optimal SVLRs for veterinary technicians and nonmedical staff were 9:1 and 8:1, respectively. In terms of productivity, the optimal SVLR for nonmedical staff was 10:1.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Findings confirmed the important role of nonveterinarian staff in revenue and veterinarian productivity in mixed animal and companion animal practices and may be useful for making evidence-based staffing decisions.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To determine the impact of a free One Health clinic with human and veterinary services on the veterinary-client relationship for underserved pet owners. A secondary aim was to understand the experience of veterinary students and volunteers who participated in the clinic.

SAMPLE

78 pet owners, 55 students and 32 volunteers who attended the Delaware Humane Association One Health Clinic between December 2018 and November 2019.

PROCEDURES

Pet owners completed an anonymous questionnaire prior to and following their veterinary appointment regarding their trust in the veterinary profession, feelings of enablement and veterinarian-client concordance. Students and volunteers completed a questionnaire within 72 hours of clinic participation about their perceptions of the educational value of the clinic.

RESULTS

Following the One Health clinic, client trust in the veterinary profession increased significantly (t = –5.50, P < 0.001). Clients also reported high levels of enablement and veterinarian-client concordance. Students and volunteers agreed the clinic was a valuable educational experience (97.7%) and reported increased compassion, enhanced leadership, communication and teamwork skills, and an improved ability to identify social issues and think critically.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

The results support the utilization of One Health clinics to improve access to veterinary care for underserved pet owners. Clients reported high levels of trust, enablement and concordance following the clinic which could have long-lasting effects on their willingness to seek veterinary care and comply with veterinarians’ recommendations. The positive experiences of students and volunteers also highlights the potential of low-cost veterinary clinics as unique educational experiences.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To analyze the results of transoral ventral bulla osteotomy (TOVBO) in cats.

ANIMALS

13 client-owned cats treated by TOVBO between February 2016 and February 2019.

PROCEDURES

Medical records of cats with a diagnosis of middle ear disease (MED) that underwent TOVBO were reviewed. The procedure was similar to the one described for dogs. Short-term follow-up was obtained via clinical examination before discharge and at day 15 postoperatively. Long-term follow-up was performed via telephone interview.

RESULTS

13 cats (age range, 8 months to 12 years) underwent unilateral (n = 10) or bilateral (3) TOVBO (16) for the treatment of tympanic bulla (TB) infection (10), nasopharyngeal inflammatory polyps (5), or bullet retrieval from the TB (1). There were no intraoperative complications. One cat with a poor preoperative status died at postoperative day 3 from pneumonia. Eight cats experienced postoperative complications including head tilt (n = 2), Horner syndrome (3), loss of appetite (2), and temporary blindness (1). Collected samples confirmed the presence of nasopharyngeal inflammatory polyps (5), or otitis media (8). Six months after surgical intervention, 9 cats were free of MED signs.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

This oral approach provided a good access to the TB in all cases. The complications observed after TOVBO were similar to those for VBO. In cats, TOVBO seems to be an acceptable and safe minimally invasive alternative to the other approaches of the TB to address MED.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To establish the components of a best-practice, baseline companion animal physical exam (CAPE).

SAMPLE

25 small animal veterinary internists and 20 small animal primary care veterinarians, all teaching the CAPE at veterinary colleges in the US, Canada, and Australia.

PROCEDURES

Using the Delphi Method of Consensus, 3 rounds of online questionnaires were sent to participants. The first round included demographic questions, questions about teaching the physical exam, and an open-ended question allowing participants to record details of how they conduct a CAPE. In the second round, participants were asked to rate components of the CAPE, which were derived from round 1, as “always examine,” “only examine as needed,” or “undecided.” Following round 2, any component not reaching 90% consensus (set a priori) for the response “always examine” was put forth in round 3, with a summary of comments from the round 2 participants for each remaining component.

RESULTS

35 components of a baseline CAPE were identified from round 1. The 25 components that reached 90% consensus by the end of round 3 were checking the oral cavity, nose, eyes, ears, heart, pulse rate, pulse quality, pulse synchrony, lungs, respiratory rate, lymph nodes, abdomen, weight, body condition score, mucous membranes, capillary refill time, general assessment, masses, haircoat, skin, hydration, penis and testicles or vulva, neck, limbs, and, in cats only, thyroid glands.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

The findings establish an expert panel’s consensus on 25 components of a baseline, best-practice CAPE that can be used to help inform veterinary curricula, future research, and the practice of veterinarians.

Open access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To determine the frequency of previously reported coding variants in the ATP7A, ATP7B, and RETN genes in a US population of Labrador Retrievers and to explore potential associations of these genotypes with pathologic hepatic copper accumulation.

SAMPLE

Archived hepatic specimens from 90 Labrador Retrievers collected between 2013 and 2021.

PROCEDURES

The Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory database was searched to identify archived tissues from Labrador Retrievers that had undergone hepatic histopathologic assessment. Cases were classified into control, copper-associated hepatopathy (CAH), and intermediate populations on the basis of histopathologic features and hepatic copper accumulation. The DNA was extracted from archived tissues and genotyped for reported variants in the 3 genes. Allele frequencies were determined, and associations of genotypes with CAH status were evaluated.

RESULTS

29 control dogs, 45 CAH dogs, and 16 intermediate dogs were included in the study. The overall ATP7A and RETN variant allele frequencies were 30% and 13%, respectively, and were not significantly different among control, CAH, and intermediate populations. The ATP7B variant allele frequency was significantly higher in the CAH population (30%) as compared to the control population (13%). However, 21 of 45 (47%) CAH dogs did not have an ATP7B variant allele whereas 7 of 28 (25%) control dogs did have an ATP7B variant allele.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Study results supported a contributory role for the ATP7B variant in CAH pathogenesis in Labrador Retrievers. However, the application of genetic testing in a clinical setting is complicated by genotypic variability within healthy and diseased dogs.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

Access to veterinary care is critical for pet, human, and community health. However, inequities in how easily pet owners can access veterinary care may exacerbate health disparities in vulnerable populations. This research analyzed pet owners’ perceptions of access to veterinary care in order to understand how demographic characteristics and financial fragility predict perceived access to veterinary services.

SAMPLE

This study utilized survey data (n = 750) from a larger cross-sectional survey of adults in the US conducted by the Tufts University Equity Research Group.

PROCEDURES

Survey data were collected in May and June of 2020 from a nationally representative group of pet owners via an online panel. Descriptive statistics, ANOVAs, and a sequential linear regression model were conducted in order to predict perceived access to veterinary care.

RESULTS

Results of a sequential linear regression model indicated that race or ethnicity, education, and financial fragility significantly predicted perceived ease of access to veterinary care (F[7,617] = 19.80; P < .001). Additionally, financial fragility was prevalent among most pet owners of almost all income brackets, highlighting the need for more research into the cost burden of veterinary care.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Future studies should focus on diverse sampling strategies that capture the experiences of minority pet owners in order to further understand issues of access in veterinary medicine.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To report clinical experience using virtual surgical planning (VSP) and surgical application of 3D printed custom surgical guides to facilitate uni- and biapical correction of antebrachial deformities in dogs.

ANIMALS

11 dogs (13 antebrachial deformity corrections).

PROCEDURES

Using CT-based bone models, VSP was performed, and surgical guides were designed and 3D printed. The guides were used to execute osteotomies and align bone segments. Postoperative CTs were obtained to compare limb alignment with the VSP. Long-term assessment of lameness and cosmesis were compared with preoperative status.

RESULTS

Guides were successfully utilized and postoperative analysis was available for 10 of 13 deformities. Guides were abandoned in 2 deformities due to soft tissue tension. Evaluation of postoperative frontal, sagittal, axial, and translational limb alignment revealed that over 90% of parameters were within the acceptable range of ≤ 5° angulation and rotation or ≤ 5 mm of translation from the VSP. Lameness scores were improved in 7/8 deformities with associated preoperative lameness, and posture was improved in 10/10 deformities in which guides were deployed. Complications included reduced range of carpal motion (n = 2), implant sensitivity (n = 2), fracture (n = 1), and tendon laceration (n = 1).

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

VSP and customized surgical guide application facilitated accurate antebrachial limb deformity correction in the majority of deformities in this case series. The use of VSP and 3D printed guides would appear to be a viable and accurate approach for correction of both uni- and biapical antebrachial deformities in dogs.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To determine the utility of blood symmetric dimethylarginine (SDMA) concentration measurement as a diagnostic tool for chronic kidney disease (CKD) in tigers (Panthera tigris) by comparing results for SDMA with those for traditional renal biomarkers and investigating correlations between these biomarkers and histopathologic kidney changes in tigers with CKD.

SAMPLE

Blood, urine, and kidney samples from 35 tigers with CKD from 2 sanctuaries.

PROCEDURES

Blood (serum or plasma) and urine samples were collected antemortem. Necropsy, including gross and histologic assessment, was performed for tigers that died or were euthanized for quality-of-life reasons. Results for CKD biomarkers in blood (BUN, creatinine, phosphorus, and SDMA concentrations) and urine (protein concentration, urine protein-to-creatinine ratio, and urine specific gravity) were evaluated for correlation with histologic kidney damage scored with an objective grading scale defined by percentage of inflammation, fibrosis, and tubular atrophy.

RESULTS

Symmetric dimethylarginine had the strongest significant correlation (ρ = 0.667) with histologic kidney damage score, followed by urine specific gravity (ρ = –0.639), blood creatinine concentration (ρ = 0.624), and BUN (ρ = 0.588). No significant correlation with kidney score was identified for blood phosphorus concentration, urine protein concentration, or the urine protein-to-creatinine ratio.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

We recommend SDMA be prioritized as a renal biomarker in tigers, with SDMA results considered in addition to those of other traditional renal biomarkers when assessing kidney function in tigers. Additionally, the grading scale we developed could be replicated across patients and pathologists for more consistent postmortem assessment of CKD in tigers.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To better understand spatial relationships between principal bronchi and other intrathoracic structures by use of CT images of dogs of various somatotypes.

ANIMALS

93 dogs that underwent thoracic CT.

PROCEDURES

Information was collected from medical records regarding signalment and physical examination and echocardiographic findings. Two investigators recorded multiple measurements on a thoracic axial CT image from each dog.

RESULTS

Thoracic height-to-width ratio (H:W) was associated with left principal bronchus (LPB) and right principal bronchus (RPB) H:W, aortic-LPB separation, focal LPB narrowing, and aortic-vertebral overlap. Thoracic H:W was not associated with dog age, weight, sex, or brachycephalic breed. Twenty-five (27%) dogs had focal LPB narrowing, compared with 5 (5%) dogs with focal RPB narrowing (P < 0.001). Ten of 25 dogs had overlap or contact between vertebrae, aorta, LPB, and heart, suggesting a cumulative compressive effect on the LPB, while 15 had LPB-aorta contact and lack of contact between the aorta and thoracic vertebrae, suggesting an aortic constrictive effect on the LPB. None had LPB narrowing without contact from surrounding structures. Inter-rater agreement was high.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

In dogs that underwent CT and were not selected for clinical suspicion of bronchial disease, principal bronchial morphology was associated with thoracic conformation. Focal LPB narrowing occurred more often than RPB narrowing. Focal LPB narrowing occurred with evidence of extraluminal compression, with or without contact between aorta and vertebrae. Brachycephalic breed could not be used for predicting thoracic H:W.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To explore the role of the hidden curriculum in residents’ development of professional identity during postgraduate training in laboratory animal medicine.

SAMPLE

24 residents enrolled in 1 of 7 laboratory animal medicine training programs in the eastern US.

PROCEDURE

24 qualitative, semistructured interviews were conducted and recorded. Deidentified transcriptions were analyzed by each author using open and axial coding. Constant comparative methodology was used to develop themes and subthemes. Member checks were performed to verify trustability of the conclusions drawn.

RESULTS

3 themes and their related subthemes emerged from the qualitative analysis: 1) building relationships through competent communication (building rapport, practicing clinical empathy, overcoming language barriers, communicating in the “authorized” way, and navigating email limitations), 2) tension within the process of identity formation (acting as the middleman among stakeholders, overcoming the stigma of the policing role, experiencing a lack of power to impact change, and managing a culture of conditional value of veterinary knowledge), and 3) outlets for tension in identity formation (reliance on residency mates, limitations of venting).

EDUCATIONAL RELEVANCE

Our findings suggest that residents are navigating professional identity formation under challenging circumstances that include conflicting stakeholder needs, conditional value of veterinary knowledge, and lack of power to influence change. Residents have limited outlets for relieving the discord between their ideal professional role and their lived experiences. These results provide an important background for refining curricula and creating effective support systems for residents.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association