Abstracts: Pain management in pigs undergoing experimental surgery; a literature review (2012-4)

Failure to provide effective analgesia to animals in noxious studies contravenes the obligation to refine animal experimentation and, by increasing ‘noise’ in physiological data sets, may decrease the scientific validity of results.

Pig models of surgical conditions are becoming increasingly important and used for translational work. This review aimed to determine the extent to which the recent biomedical literature describes pain assessment and alleviation in pigs recovering from experimental surgery. Continue reading Abstracts: Pain management in pigs undergoing experimental surgery; a literature review (2012-4)

Good result for well-travelled Goatie


Brisbane Veterinary Specialist Centre (BVSC + The Animal Hospital) recently helped a much-loved female Boer goat named Goatie overcome an oral cancer.

Goatie was flown from her rainforest home near Cairns, Qld, to Brisbane in the hope of removing a fast-growing oral cancer (squamous cell carcinoma) affecting the upper front of her mouth. Owner Naomi Brigham was . . . → Read More: Good result for well-travelled Goatie

Disappointing results of rhino skin graft

Thandi the rhino.

Thandi. (Picture: Fightforrhinos.com)

Thandi is an unusual rhino. Not only did she survive a brutal poaching attack last year, when she lost her horn as well as several of her herd companions, this resilient rhino from South Africa’s Kariega Game Reserve is now helping to break new ground in veterinary surgery, through trialling a number of skin graft procedures designed to treat her wound.

William Fowlds of Investec Rhino Lifeline, and specialist veterinary surgeons Gerhard Steenkamp and Johan Marais, from the Faculty of Veterinary Science, Onderstepoort, spent 14 months collaborating and working on new techniques to repair facial damage in poached rhino, with South African plastic surgeon Alistair Lamont. Their first task was to assess the quality of remaining facial tissues and decide if it was possible some of these new measures could help the regeneration process of robust rhino skin. While studies of the anatomy of rhino skin are available, the tests all involve dead animals. Thandi would be the first live rhino to benefit from this knowledge.

“This team of professionals has the responsibility of taking Thandi safely through an anaesthetic, and ground breaking surgery, and apply ways to repair her face so that she can handle the rigours of rhino life in the future. It’s yet another chapter in a process which has no guaranteed outcomes,” Fowlds said.

Between June and October this year Thandi underwent several surgical procedures and while initial results appeared positive, a recent check has shown the skin grafts were less successful than hoped. Thandi had removed most of the grafted tissues that had been transplanted on the previous two occasions, and only two “small islands of tissue” remained over her front horn area. The exposed bed of granulation tissue was also less blood-rich than anticipated.

“Reports leading up to the procedure indicated that the skin had been traumatised by the rigours of rhino life. It wasn’t clear whether it was due to interaction with a bull, or whether it was simply a result of rubbing and rolling in the mud,” co-owner of the game reserve, Graeme Rushmore said. Continue reading Disappointing results of rhino skin graft

Mulesing debate continues

A study conducted by the University of Melbourne’s Mackinnon Project that compared the controversial practice of mulesing with the use of breech clips, and applications of a long-acting insecticide to combat breech flystrike in sheep, has found that mulesing remains the most effective method.

The three-year study, which did not include animal welfare outcomes, was led by project director, and Australian Sheep Vet Society member, John Larsen, and involved more than 6000 sheep in three self-replacing merino flocks at Nareen, Ballarat and East Gippsland, in Victoria.

Publication of the results coincided with renewed pressure by animal welfare groups on the fashion industry, urging it to ban the use of mulesed wool in the manufacture of garments, and urging farmers to ban the practice of mulesing.

Although results are still being finalised, the study has shown that clips were less effective and cost-effective as had been hoped, and provided little protection from strike during spring and early summer. Animals that were treated with the insecticide Clik however, showed a similar or lower prevalence of flystrike to mulesed sheep during the pre-Christmas peak breech-strike period.

“There was no difference in the prevalence of breech strike between the mulesed and unmulesed groups but once the protection from the chemical expired after Christmas, the unmulesed sheep were at greater risk of breech strike compared to both the clipped and mulesed ones,” Larsen said.

While no farmer enjoys the “unpleaseant” task of mulesing Larsen said it was still an effective method, although he stressed breeding for less wrinkle and wool on the breech was clearly the way forward, and where the industry “should be going aggressively”. Continue reading Mulesing debate continues

An emergency caesarean with a twist

Urban sprawl may allow us to actualise the “great Aussie dream” of a big house with a big back yard, but at worst it can be a nightmare for our  wildlife, with motor-vehicle accidents and predation by domestic animals resulting in countless injuries and fatalities daily.

According to Robert Johnson, based at South Penrith Veterinary Clinic in Western Sydney, veterinarians play an important role in treating and rehabilitating wildlife that has come off second best in such encounters.

Jane Doe, a female pink-tongued skink (Cyclodomorphus gerrardii) presented to Johnson following a dog attack in a suburban back yard. For the uninitiated, pink tongued skinks are extremely similar in appearance to Eastern Blue-Tongue lizards, distinguished by a more slender body, a narrower tail, striking cross-band markings and of course a pink – as opposed to blue – tongue, hence the name. They’re just a lot less common. Continue reading An emergency caesarean with a twist