Veterinary training in Kenya began in 1942; when veterinary assistants were trained at diploma level to assist the then colonial veterinarians, twenty years afterward, that’s in 1962 the then royal college began offering Bachelor of Veterinary medicine (BVM) still under the University of East Africa, the now Makerere University. In 1980 the Faculty became part of the University of Nairobi. Since this time, veterinary medicine has evolved and advanced so much, with the use of more advanced technology in the diagnosis and treatment of animal diseases.
Unlike in the past when the Faculty’s referral small and large animal hospital was the only one in the entire nation, now we boast of various veterinary clinics and veterinary surgery centers in the nation, owned and managed by our own locally trained veterinary surgeons; with various mobile ambulatory door–to –door veterinary clinics. This is a great milestone in the offering of animal health services in the country; this has since aided in the reduction of the cases of zoonotic disease fatalities in the country, i.e., deaths due to rabies; anthrax; rift valley fever; brucellosis, neurocysticercosis (NCC), echinococcosis etc., these diseases can be eliminated in the country like it has been in the western world only with intensive utilization of the veterinary manpower that the nation have.
In this article I’ll not be talking about zoonoses (a story of another day), but i will be shedding light on the advancements that have been made in practice in this beautiful country, i want this article to also act as a thrust power to push on for more in the industry, especially in this era where many families have incorporated pets as parts of their families and are expecting an exceptional care of their pets in terms of health.
The evolutions and advancements have been received in the following specialties and or fields: –
- Digital imaging techniques: – the most commonly used technology in veterinary imaging science are digital X-ray and ultrasound. Radiography was the first to drop into the country’s veterinary diagnostic imaging. The University of Nairobi’s referral and teaching animal hospital was the first to use it, now almost all the veterinary clinic in the country owns a digital x-ray and ultrasound machine. These two techniques are essential in veterinary diagnostics. They are used to diagnose orthopedic, gastrointestinal, urogenital, and cardiopulmonary pathologies in animals. The MRI and CT scan are yet to follow into the country.
- Laparascopy/key-hole surgery: – this is an endoscopic procedure that has taken up the role of the more invasive incisional exploratory surgery, which involved cutting up a larger incision to view internal organs and give a definitive diagnosis. In key-hole surgery, very small incisions called ‘ports’ are made to allow passage of trocars and video cameras (laparascope), which then permits precise and accurate organ and lesion localization in monitors; it also allows taking of biopsies for pathological and laboratory examination and diagnosis of pathologies. This technique is becoming superior and is used to augment and confirm the abdominal radiographic and sonographic diagnosis. The procedure is also used to perform gastropexies, ovariohysterectomy, nephrectomy, gall bladder removal (cholecystectomy), and in the evaluation of abdominal organs. This technique has already gained entrance into the nation’s veterinary field, and some veterinary clinics are boasting of the technique, isn’t it a milestone?
- The use of Electrocautery and laser therapy: – this involves the use of a special lights of specific wavelengths on the body to stimulate wound healing by stimulating cell regeneration, relieve pain due to musculoskeletal disorders (arthritis, arthroses, tendosynovitis, sprain & strain), i.e., the low power laser. It’s especially used in equine (horse) sports medicine. High power laser, on the other hand, is used to excise, cut, and destroy tissues. Because of this ability, high power laser is used in excisional surgery, especially in oncology, to excise and destroy cancer cells. Its use in surgery has greatly helped to preclude complications that are common with conventional surgical methods such as infection, hemorrhage, and keloid scars. Electrocautery on the other hand, involves using electric current to generate heat used to heat electrodes that are then used by the veterinary surgeon to produce a desirable surgical effect on patients. The heat generated helps to cauterize blood vessels; hence, bleeding is greatly reduced, a clean, almost bloodless surgical field. Its commonly called Diathermy. Some veterinary clinics here in Kenya boasts of Electrocautery and diathermy in their surgery.
- Cosmetic and reconstructive surgery: – this is a very lucrative field in human medicine, the common plastic surgery. In the field, it has been so much used as a beautifying tool. Well, in veterinary medicine and surgery, it is used to correct dermatological defects like scalds, congenital defects like palatoschisis (cleft palate), and prosthesis – limb implants as a salvage procedure. Other procedures considered part of this category include eye tuck and eye lift surgeries for the correction of entropion and ectropion eye defects, skin grafting and myocutaneous flap surgeries.These procedures in the veterinary field are not beautifying but are medical and are done to boost the quality of life of our animals. The benefits of the procedure outweigh the risk of anesthesia. The procedures are common encounters of almost every veterinary surgeon, especially small animal surgeons in Kenya.
- Veterinary orthopedics: – this field deals with the surgical treatment of fractures. The specialty had grown in the nation from the time when amputation was the only treatment to appendicular fractures to now when implants are used to stabilize and immobilize the fracture and enhance fast healing. The commonly performed procedures include cruciate ligament reconstruction (tibial plateau leveling osteotomy), femoral head excision, intramedullary pinning, use of bone plates and lag screws, and tension band wiring in avulsion fractures. Others include hemilaminectomy, a treatment to intervertebral disc prolapse in dogs and cats. These procedures are commonly performed in almost all veterinary clinics in the nation.
Dr. Ngetich (BVM, UoN)