From Biovision’s Views Newsletter, Issue 2, May 2015
Vet: Josh Zacharias, DVM, MS, DACVS, DACVSMR
Affiliation: Countryside Large Animal Veterinary Services, PLLC
Position: Full-time surgeon
Focus: Equine, livestock, food production animals
Location: Greeley, CO
I am pleased to write the Editor’s Comment for this issue of Biovision’s “Views” newsletter. I’ve been an equine vet since 2003 and am the full-time surgeon in a four-vet practice – Countryside Large Animal Veterinary Services, PLLC – in Greeley, a town of approximately 100,000 people on the eastern plains 50 miles north-northeast of Denver, Colorado. Our services for livestock and large animals include surgery, lameness, equine treadmill, equine dentistry, and vaccinations and total health care for individuals and herds/flocks of food animals and production livestock.
This issue of the newsletter focuses exclusively on Biovision’s NeedleView Arthroscope Suite, recapping its development, documenting its growing worldwide adoption, and looking ahead to potential new applications. Biovision asked me to write the Editor’s Comment specifically because of my experience with the product.
I first encountered the NeedleView scope at the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS) Surgery Summit in Seattle, Washington, in 2010, where Biovision was an exhibitor. I met John Small, the company’s president, and immediately was intrigued and excited by the potential of this new diagnostic tool. We got our hands on one in 2012 and began using it as a way to definitively diagnose stifle disease without the expense and risk of general anesthesia and surgery. NeedleView piqued my interest because it’s been my experience that it’s easy for private practitioners to get comfortable – and rusty – doing what they’ve always done. My goal is to always be learning and growing.
The standing stifle procedure developed by Dr. David Frisbie of Colorado State University became our “bread and butter” in regard to the NeedleView, and it easily paid for itself. Keep in mind, our practice is in Colorado State University’s “back yard,” and we’re not all that far from Littleton Equine Medical Center. But with the NeedleView, we can compete with an academic institution and a large practice and more than hold our own treating Western performance horses (rodeo horses, barrel racers, cutters, etc.). Now, three years in to having the NeedleView, we pull clients from as far away as Colorado’s western slope, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, and even Montana.
We’re able to compete and distinguish our practice because of NeedleView’s unique advantages:
- Easy to learn – You don’t necessarily need to be a surgeon to be able to use the NeedleView Arthroscope Suite effectively. You do need to be comfortable with joint anatomy and know how to be in a joint without damaging cartilage; this can be taught in a wetlab or weekend workshop. But the actual technique is easily taught it you’re in joints frequently (for example, using IRAP or other therapeutic agents).
- Minimally-invasive – The NeedleView scope is the size of an 18-gauge needle. You can scope with just a local block and sedation. If you see a lot of lameness cases but don’t have a surgery room or ventilator, NeedleView opens up a way to diagnose these cases.
- Meaningful information – NeedleView helps us give clients the information they need to make good decisions about how to proceed with an injured horse. It helps us know what paths to consider. For example, if a horse has been treated with IRAP and doesn’t seem to be responding, NeedleView lets us easily take a look to see what’s going on. Or if a horse has a meniscal tear, NeedleView can help us give the owner the information to decide to proceed with surgery, debride to speed healing, or – if the injury is so severe that the horse is still likely to be only 50/50 a year out – maybe not opt for the “Cadillac” level of treatment.
The profiles in this issue will give you insight into NeedleView’s early history in horses (Dr. Frisbie) and small animals (Dr. Devitt), its current applications (Dr. Frisbie and Dr. Robbins), and its growing worldwide adoption and research into potential future applications (Dr. Grant, Dr. Koch, and Dr. Canapp).
I hope the profiles get you excited about NeedleView and its potential. I’m proof that you can use this versatile tool to enable better medicine at your practice and simultaneously create a new profit center; I challenge you to consider how you can do the same.