In my last round of research, I looked into the history of veterinary studies, discovering when formal (and “informal”) veterinary education began and for what reasons. In this round, I will be researching what the most innovative breakthroughs and advances in veterinary medicine have been over the years, going into as much detail as I can for each one and their uses.
Stem Cell Therapy
-In the last twenty or so years, quite a bit of attention has been given to research on the biology of stem cells. Consequently, we have a much better understanding of stem cells, although their use with humans is still rather experimental. On the other hand, there are many veterinary diseases that are able to be treated using stem cell therapy today (1).
-To have a better understanding of what I am talking about, stem cells are unspecialized cells that are capable of differentiating into specialized “building blocks” of tissues and organs. There are two classifications: embryonic stem cells (from 2-11 day old blastocytes) and postnatal/somatic/adult stem cells (from most adult tissues). Embryonic stem cells are totipotent (able to differentiate into any cell type), while adult stem cells are multipotent (able to differentiate into multiple cell types but not all). Embryonic stem cells are needed to differentiate into every cell type to complete an organism during fetal development, whereas adult stem cells are usually used after an injury. When there is an injury, the stem cells will undergo cell division, as shown in the picture below, in order to self-renew (2).
-The reason why stem cell therapy can be so useful is because they have high therapeutic potential and are able to be injected as autologous (1) (from the same animal (2)), allogenic (1) (from a different animal of the same species (2)), freshly isolated or previously cultured (1).
Anesthesia and Anesthetic Monitoring
-When a surgical procedure or restraint for a minor procedure is needed, veterinarians will employ anesthetics. The new anesthetics including isolurane and sevolurane are safer than the older anesthetics because the new gases induce anesthesia quickly, have little negative effects on the animal’s internal systems, and they are able to recover faster after the procedure is finished (3).
-Before using anesthesia, the animal is usually given a pre-anesthetic sedative to ease their stress. An intravenous catheter is often used to administer fluids and medications, and the anesthetic can be delivered through gas inhalation, intravenous infusion, or both. During anesthesia, the animal continues to be monitored and cared for, including the use of:
- Intravenous fluids and/or medications to help their circulation and blood pressure
- An endotracheal tube inserted in their trachea (windpipe) to provide the anesthetic gas and oxygen to their lungs
- Pulse oximetry the oxygenation of their blood
- Blood pressure monitoring
- Temperature monitoring and warming blankets in order to avoid hypothermia (low body temperature)
- Electrocardiography (ECG or EKG) to monitor their heart
-In contrary to X-rays, which give two-dimensional views, 3D printing makes a realistic and tangible model (5). A liquid ultraviolet resin and an ultraviolet laser create each layer of the model, the laser etching out the pattern and curing and solidifying the layer (6)(7).
-The process begins with computerized axial tomography (a CAT or CT scan), which takes cross-sectional pictures of the animal (5). Once a clear image of the desired structure is obtained, it can be sent to a printing lab where they can use a 3D printer to create the structure and send it back to the veterinarian (5)(6)(7).
-3D printing can be used to build various structures including bones, blood vessels, muscles and other organs (6)(7). 3D printing is useful for veterinarians because it helps give them a better understanding of the problem and allows them to have practice before performing on a live animal (5)(6)(7).
-Since 3D printing was first introduced in the 1980’s, it has become more affordable, and it is a cost-effective way of creating models (6)(7).
That’s all for this week! In my next round of research, I wanted to look more into how these discoveries, technological advances, and the veterinary practice as a whole, have impacted animal patients, owners, and veterinarians as well. However, there are still some technology advances in veterinary medicine that I think are important to go over but that I didn’t manage to fit in this round of research, so I might continue this research for the next round and push the other research to the next cycle. Some technology advances that I may look into are laser surgery, fiber optics and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). If you have any suggestions, ideas or websites I could use, feel free to leave a comment below. Thanks for reading!