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Vets working on the front leg of a dog

Vets working on the front leg of a dog

South Lanarkshire Veterinary Practice Hails Revolutionary Surgical Device Improving Animal Welfare And Slashing Recovery Time

11 months ago

16th March, 2023 15h59


Avondale Vets no longer comfortable performing hindlimb surgery without Vygon’s Plexygon device

Faced with ongoing demand for cruciate and stifle surgery for dogs, a South Lanarkshire veterinary practice has introduced a new process using nerve blocks that has revolutionised its treatment.

The Clinical Director at Avondale Vets, Mark Holmes, has seen post operative recovery times reduce to just one hour when using a portable nerve stimulator called Plexygon from leading supplier Vygon Vet. Previously, recovery could take up anywhere between eight and 24 hours.

“It’s been pretty incredible” he explains. “To see a patient standing, eating and walking out for toileting within an hour or so of surgery has been outstanding – a joy.”

He continues: “Our new approach using a local nerve block and intra-articular morphine provides complete and reliable analgesia of the entire hind leg. What’s more, we have greater anaesthetic stability from lower levels ofanaesthetic gas, which is better for the environment.

“We have experienced fewer problems with blood pressure, and we require lower levels of opiates.  The dog can reliably go home the same day because the effects will last for around 8 to 12 hours.

“We used to rely on methadone post-surgery, which can be effective, but there are side effects.  Doses required to provide adequate analgesia frequently result in inappetence, nausea and sedation, resulting in a longer recovery. Plexygon has allowed us to reduce our use of methadone and get patients home the same day with oral medication, so the result has been significant. 

“The dogs are so much more comfortable that our main challenge is them using the limb more than they should, which is a nice problem to have and relatively easy to manage with cage rest.”

Mark was exploring the benefits of local nerve blocks and was introduced to Vygon Vet through CPD training. After using a Plexygon on trial, he rapidly went on to purchase it and now reports that he would be uncomfortable performing surgery without it.

He says: “It isn’t suitable to every type of nerve block, as there needs to be a motor response for it to work. But for where it can be used, even if I was prepared to operate without Plexygon, I don’t believe the nurses would allow me. I genuinely think they would object.”

Plexygon works by allowing accurate nerve location through the emission of a low intensity electrical current ensuring medication is administered in the right place to work effectively.

Cruciate surgery is the most common orthopaedic surgery performed in dogs and is said to make up 85% of surgeries performed every year.

Mark says: “We are careful in how we approach new techniques. It’s not about grabbing hold of new kit and pushing the boundaries. We will implement changes that deliver an improvement to animal welfare. In fact, I believe that where there are crystal clear welfare benefits, we have a professional responsibility to take such innovations on board. And the Plexygon nerve stimulator package falls into that category.

“These are relatively inexpensive devices in the context of this type of surgery. They aren’t hard to get hold of and are straightforward to use. This isn’t heroics, it’s just making sure that the animal gets the best care possible. I advise colleagues that if they’re performing cruciate and similar surgery, they need to be using this.”

In addition to the animal welfare considerations, Avondale Vets discovered cost and resource benefits too. Mark, who performs around 90% of orthopaedic surgery at the practice, adds: “To keep a dog on a high level of opiates to make sure they are comfortable is costly, and factoring in an overnight stay, we have identified that using a nerve block is a saving for the client.

“Not only that, but it’s also peace of mind for the Vet and the nursing team, who would otherwise be having to administer medications every four hours. It allows for lighter touch nursing, but most importantly, it’s far better for the dog.”

Brett Hughes, Vygon Homecare and Veterinary Business Manager, concludes: “The feedback from Mark highlights the range of benefits to the practice, patients and clients using Vygon’s Plexygon nerve stimulator alongside our Echoplex+ needle range.

“This is just one part of our anaesthetic devices offering, focusing on pain management and with patient comfort a top priority. It’s fantastic to hear of the difference it is making at Avondale and we are happy to offer trials and educational support to other practices interested in exploring this technique.”

To find out more about Plexgon device visit:

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