Saturday, December 6, 2008

An awe-inspiring experience

Well, as you can see the busier I get the less I post! Last week I had quite the experience that I feel I should share. As many of you know most veterinary colleges utilize terminal labs as a way of demonstrating principles to students that otherwise would not be seen first hand till it occur ed when in the clinics and the animal had to be saved. This week we had a 12 hr hemorrhage and transfusion lab to see the effects that schock and severe hemorrhage have on the body and its normal responses. To do this lab we used retired sled dogs from up north that are not re-home able due to behaviour. We worked in groups of 5 or 6 with many vets and lab TA's floating around helping everyone. This was all of us students first time "operating" and working with live animals. Each group had an anesthetized dog and it was our responsibility to monitor and maintain the anesthesia throughout the lab. I was in charge of anesthesia for my group. Our dog had breathing problems throughout the lab due to the chemical agent used to induce the dog and the poor health status of our dog. We had to surgically access the femoral artery and vein along with the carotid artery and cannulate all with catheters. I got to do the femoral artery and felt so proud of myself for accomplishing that small task. Wonder what it will feel like the first time I do a spay? We also had to expose a loop of gut. Through out the day we monitored, pulse, resp rate, blood pressure, ecg, as well as anesthetic monitoring signs. We gave doses of nor epinephrine to see the bodies res pone to a stimulus. We induced severe hemorrhage by draining blood through the cannula's to ~ 44 mmmHG, while normal is 120. While draining the artery catheter popped out spraying blood everywhere, though we clamped the artery off so quickly and managed to recannulate fast enough to barely even note a change in blood pressure even though it seemed to loose a lot of blood. We then recovered our animals using first ringers solution then whole blood and noted changed in nor-epi responses. I know this doesn't seem like it would take a long time but it took over 5 hours to just get to the blood draining part and another 5 to recover the animal. at this point we opened accessed the chest cavity. The thoracic cavity once pierced required us to manually ventilate the lungs. I got to hold beating heart in my hands, which is possibly the most awe inspiring experience I have ever had. We then simulated hardware disease by filling the membranous sac around the heart with fluid. WE then shocked the heart into fibrillation and the then schock it back into rhythm. At this point we euthanized the dogs with KCl.
There was a lot of debate going into this lab about the ethics of using animals in terminal labs. I for one found the experience very rewarding, not only for the greater understanding of the principles being demonstrated but it was also a great confidence booster to work with live animals and under the same conditions that recovery surgeries will later be held. It was the sacrifice of one for the good of the many.


GoLightly said...

Totally fascinating stuff.
Found your blog through your aunt, FernValley01.
I am a "quasi-vet", tried to get into Guelph, but my best friend actually did. I've had my very own vet to talk to for years.
This is totally cool.
Thanks for blogging it!
Best of luck, keep up the medical stuff for us vet talk groupies:)

Heather said...

This is very interesting to me...I always wanted to be a vet when I was growing up...but I think I wouldn't have the stomach for it. I really have a lot of respect for you and the training you are doing.

Good Luck with School!