A young vet on a top graduate scheme has spoken of his delight after successfully performing a complex surgery solo for the first time.

Justin Lee is on the Linnaeus Graduate Development Programme and works at its Village Vet practices in Longstanton, Milton and Whittlesford, in Cambridgeshire.

Justin, who’s being mentored by head vet Dr Bridget Adcock, operated on a one-year-old Labrador to remove two 5cm stones it had swallowed which had become lodged in the stomach and small intestine.

He said: “The dog, called Chase, had a week-long history of intermittent vomiting, lethargy and not being able to keep any food down or pass any faeces for 24 hours. The owner said Chase had a habit of eating stones and had vomited up a large smooth stone the day before.

“X-rays revealed two round, smooth foreign bodies approximately 5cm in diameter.”

Now it was time for Justin to put his years of university training into practice and perform his first solo exploratory laparotomy. 

Naturally he remembers virtually every moment, and added: “I made a two-layer gastrotomy incision along the lesser curvature of the stomach, the gastric contents were suctioned out and a 5cm stone was removed from the stomach. 

“The stomach wall was closed with two layers of sutures. Enterotomy was performed cranial to the foreign body in the jejunum and another 5cm stone was removed. 

“The small intestine was subsequently closed and no enterectomy and anastomosis was indicated as there was no necrotic tissue.

“The abdomen was flushed and lavaged prior to closure. Absorbable sutures were placed on the skin wound so no stitches needed to be removed after the surgery, as Chase can sometimes struggle to stay still!”

Chase was transferred to Village Vet’s Milton hospital to receive overnight care and has recovered well. 

Justin says there was a huge sense of accomplishment at seeing such a quick and positive recovery.

He added: “Surgery took two and a half hours and seeing Chase recovering so well gave me great satisfaction. I was also glad that I could finally have my lunch break at 5pm!

“It was exciting to step out of my comfort zone but slightly nerve-racking at the start.

“The situation was made easier, though, when I knew that surgery was the only option to make Chase feel better, and I was given expert guidance and support throughout by my mentor, Bridget.”

Bridget said: “Justin has been a model student and is really excelling. The operation went very well and he clearly showed he has the skills needed to become a top-quality veterinary surgeon.

“He even picked up that Chase had very sensitive skin, as well as speaking to the owners about possible management of atopic dermatitis.

“It was a first-class job all around and we definitely have very high hopes of Justin in the future.”

Village Vet has 30 practices across London, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire. For more information, visit www.villagevet.co.uk or search for Village Vet on social media.

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