Author Archives: Derinda Blakeney

Small Animal Surgery Services at OSU

posted May 27th, 2012 by

by Derinda Blakeney

Photos courtesy OSU

Meet Dr. Mark Rochat, a veterinary surgeon at Oklahoma State University’s Boren Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, where he has worked for 17 years.  He performs and oversees (with the surgery residents) approximately 550-600 surgeries per year, is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, and holds the Cohn Family Chair for Small Animal Care.

In addition to his surgical responsibilities in the hospital, he spends time teaching.  Rochat works with pre-veterinary through fourth year veterinary students in the classroom, laboratories and clinics.  He also supervises interns and surgical residents.  Currently he is mentoring three small animal surgery residents.  As the residents progress in their training, they are able to do more and more on their own under Rochat’s watchful eye.

“Owners don’t come here because it is a teaching hospital,” explains Rochat.  “They come here because their animals are in need of the equipment we have and the surgical expertise.  I keep a close eye on every case, in surgery and out, to make sure the balance of good patient care and proper training occurs.”

Dr Mark Rochat in surgery Christmas Eve 09

The veterinary hospital is equipped with three surgical suites where Rochat performs a wide array of surgical procedures.

“You name it, we do it,” he smiles.  “We perform soft tissue surgeries (general, head and neck, cardiothoracic, urologic, endocrine, reconstructive, oncologic, etc.).  We do neurosurgeries such as disk rupture, tumors, various acquired and congenital deformities, brain tumors, hydrocephalic shunts and trauma.”

Dr. Rochat is probably most known among veterinary colleagues for his orthopedic surgical expertise.  To keep those skills current, he recently took total knee replacement and total elbow replacement courses.  He hopes to be able to soon add those total joint replacement procedures to total hip replacement surgery, which he has been doing since arriving at OSU.  Other orthopedic surgery options available at OSU include managing trauma, such as fractures and dislocations; congenital/developmental conditions (hip dysplasia, elbow conditions, growth deformities); arthroscopy, cranial cruciate ligament disease, orthopedic oncologic surgery, and more.

When asked why he decided to become a veterinarian, he replies “I liked animals, medicine, and being outdoors…I thought I would be a general practitioner in a mixed practice,” he adds.

So how did he wind up as a veterinary surgeon?

“I’m very visual and like the ‘see the problem, fix the problem and move on’ concept.  I also like ’tools’ and anatomy.”

Dr Mark Rochat views radiographs of a dog with a dislocated elbow.

Some of the specialized equipment at Dr. Rochat’s disposal is an array of arthroscopic equipment, total joint replacement systems, fracture management systems including plating, external fixators, and interlocking nails, ring fixator systems, surgical stapling devices, laparoscopic and thoracoscopic systems, and operating microscopes.   He typically operates on mainly dogs with some cats and a decent amount of zoo animals.  He rarely performs surgery on food animals, especially since OSU’s veterinary hospital has both food animal and equine surgeons on faculty.

Throughout his career at OSU, Rochat has had a lot of memorable cases, too many to list.

“Some you remember because of the complexity of the case and others stand out because of the amazing power of the body to heal.  And then there are cases where the animal or the owner was just special and you were glad you could help them achieve a positive outcome from a particular situation.  We do a lot of amazing things.  Small animal surgery wise, just about anything you can do for a human, you can do for an animal.”

The veterinary hospital must generate much of its budget through revenues from referral cases as well as from local clientele.  Therefore, the hospital fees for referral cases are very similar to those of a private surgical specialty practice.

And Dr. Mark Rochat is available to perform that surgery when it benefits your companion animal.

The Oklahoma State University Boren Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital is open to the public 365 days a year.  Routine and specialized care for small and large animals are available at this facility as well as 24-hour emergency care.  The veterinary hospital is certified by the American Animal Hospital Association.

The Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences is one of 28 veterinary colleges in the United States and is fully accredited by the Council on Education of the American Veterinary Medical Association.  For more information, visit or call (405) 744-7000.

Avian, Exotic and Zoo Medicine Service

posted March 15th, 2012 by

by Derinda Blakeney

The Avian, Exotic and Zoo Medicine Service (AEZ) at Oklahoma State University’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, directed by Cornelia Ketz-Riley, DVM, DACZM, treats a myriad of animals. Dr. Ketz-Riley is board certified through the American College of Zoological Medicine, which currently only has 132 diplomates. She also brings more than 20 years of experience in working with a lot of different species, not only privately-owned exotic pets, but also with animals kept in zoos or free-ranging wildlife. The AEZ team, consisting of Dr. Ketz-Riley, Jill Murray, certified veterinary technician, and an intern, provides high-quality medical care to all creatures big and small. “Here at the Center’s Boren Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (BVMTH), we treat all kinds of birds, from canaries to ostriches, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, invertebrates, actually any animals, from spiders to elephants,” laughs Ketz-Riley. “We have taken care of zebras, giraffes, camels, antelope, primates, and even an elephant. Our philosophy is that all animals should get medical care.”  The BVMTH is open to the public, and anyone can bring his or her pet to the hospital for care. If the pet is under the care of another veterinarian, a referral appointment can easily be arranged. The AEZ service offers state-of-the-art veterinary medical care for a wide variety of non-traditional animals.

The following is a list of services available for these patients:

• Preventive Health Care

• Exotic Pet Grooming (Beak, Wing & Nail Trims)

• Dental Care

• New Pet Examinations

• Nutrition Consultations

• Behavior Consultations

• Wildlife Rehabilitation

• Referral Services for Veterinarians

• 24-Hour Hospital Care

• Advanced Medical Care & Procedure

• Advanced Imaging

o Digital Radiography

o Ultrasound

o Computed Tomography (CT)

o Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

• Endoscopy

• Internal Medicine

• Ophthalmic Consultations

• Hematologic, Histopathology & Viral Testing

• Surgery

o Micro-Surgery

o Orthopedic

Being located in the Small Animal Clinic of OSU’s Veterinary Hospital gives the AEZ service access to the latest technology in veterinary medicine, including CT scanners and an MRI. The interdisciplinary atmosphere at the university allows Ketz-Riley and her staff access to many board-certified professionals in such fields as surgery, anesthesiology, radiology and more.

“One of our goals is to provide good client education regarding preventative healthcare,” says Ketz-Riley. “Many of the animals we see have systems that are much more sensitive than your everyday pet. Early detection of problems, proper husbandry, good nutrition, wellness exams, blood work and vaccinations can go a long way in making sure your special pet has a long, good, quality life.

“For example, an annual wellness exam for a guinea pig or a rabbit will cost an owner anywhere from $47 to $147, depending if blood work is included. It is important for a guinea pig to have regular checkups because it could develop bladder stones or large ovarian cysts, for example. This can go undetected for a long time, since rodents and rabbits often hide symptoms of illness as they are potential prey animals that have to hide weakness to avoid predation.

Once the animal is exhibiting clinical signs and is brought into the veterinary hospital, the disease is often far progressed, and the animal may need surgery. At that time, additional diagnostic work-up and surgery could cost the owner much more, so early detection through regular health checks is the key to less expensive medical management and treatment of this problem. So, in the long run, a wellness exam is money saved in the future and helps keep your pet healthy,” she says.

The Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences is the only veterinary college in Oklahoma and one of 28 veterinary colleges in the United States and is fully accredited by the Council on Education of the American Veterinary Medical Association. The Center’s Boren Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital is open to the public and provides routine and specialized care for small and large animals. It also offers 24-hour emergency care and is certified by the American Animal Hospital Association. For more information, visit www.cvhs.okstate. edu or call (405) 744-7000.

Cancer in Pets Similar to Human Disease

posted March 15th, 2011 by


KIMBERLY REEDS, DvM, recently joined Oklahoma State University’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences as an assistant professor of oncology. She works at the Boren Veterinary Medical Hospital treating dogs and cats with cancer.

“Dogs and cats get cancers comparable to the ones humans get,” explains Reeds. “The types of cancer are very similar to those diagnosed in humans and similar cancers appear in both small animal species such as lymphoma and skin tumors. The most common cancers we treat are lymphoma and mast cell tumors in dogs.”

While attending OSU’s veterinary college, Reeds’ interest in oncology was sparked one summer working on a research project.

Dr. Kimberly Reeds examines Sahara as registered veterinary technician, Lisa Gallery, holds the dog.

“I liked being able to offer help to people who didn’t think any help was available for their pet,” she says. “Cancer is a devastating diagnosis. I want people to understand that usually there is something we can do to extend the patient’s life or at least make it better. A cancer diagnosis is no longer a death sentence. In most cases there is still hope.”

She recommends a veterinary examination when pet owners notice sudden changes in behavior or appetite, vomiting and diarrhea, the presence of a mass or a swelling that doesn’t go away or persistent pain. However, not all of these symptoms lead to a cancer diagnosis.

In animals, the protocol for cancer treatment differs from humans.

“The first option in general for animals is surgery to remove the cancer followed by chemotherapy and/or radiation, except for lymphoma. There is usually no surgical option for lymphoma so it’s straight to chemotherapy treatment, which varies in length of time for treatment.”

Depending on the diagnosis, chemotherapy may last 3-6 months or some longer-term chemo treatments may be for an indefinite time, with the owner giving the pet a pill daily.

“The side effects vary depending on the drug itself, the drug dose and the intensity of the drug protocol. Some animals experience gastro intestinal upset, but in general, dogs and cats actually handle chemotherapy pretty well.

They don’t experience the expectation that it will cure them. Animals also do not lose their hair during treatment like most people do. It’s a rare occurrence when that happens.”

OSU’s veterinary hospital offers surgical and medical oncology services.

“We are approved to use the new melanoma vaccine, which is not available in many private practices. We maintain an inventory of most of the common chemotherapy drugs as well as the new anti-cancer drug, Palladia, which is used to treat mast cell tumors in dogs.”

She notes that access to a wide variety of specialists provides for consulting regarding “each other’s cases often as a team of doctors to try to come up with the best plan to obtain the best possible outcome for our patients.”

“Our focus is on extending the patient’s life while maintaining a good quality of life.” Reeds recalls a dog she treated during her oncology residency.

“I treated a chocolate female lab owned by the nicest older gentleman. The dog had a thyroid tumor in her neck. Whenever he brought her in for treatments as he would see me walk toward them, he would lean down and say to the dog, ‘Look, here comes your BFF (Best Friend Forever), Dr. Reeds.’ I smile whenever I think of that and know I made a difference in her life and her owner’s life. I gave them quality time and hope for one more good day and that is priceless.”

Following graduation from OSU’s veterinary college, she practiced for a year in Texas, then returned to OSU for advanced study of tumors. She completed a one-year Radiation Therapy Internship at Purdue University and a three-year Residency in Oncology at Kansas State University before joining OSU’s faculty. She is currently completing an M.S. degree in Veterinary Clinical Sciences at Kansas State University and the requirements for board certification as a veterinary oncologist.

For Information:
Dr. Kimberly Reeds – (405) 744-7000

Veterinary Ophthalmology Services

posted October 15th, 2010 by


Margi Gilmour, DVM, associate professor at Oklahoma State University’s (OSU) Center for Veterinary Health Sciences is more than a veterinarian. A Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists, Gilmour is a board certified veterinary ophthalmologist. Board certification requires an additional four years beyond veterinary school. Currently the only ophthalmologist at the center’s Boren Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, Gilmour and Carey McCully, a registered veterinary technician (RVT), provide ophthalmology services for the more than 900 patients they treat a year.

“We treat all species,” says Gilmour. “We see mostly dogs with horses being the second highest. The more uncommon animals we treat are at the zoo—penguins, sea lions, polar bears and ostriches to name a few.”

According to Gilmour, animals suffer from many similar eye problems as humans.

“We treat trauma cases, eyelid, corneal and retinal diseases, glaucoma, dry eye, and cataracts. Cataract surgery is the most common ophthalmic surgery performed. We also serve as a diagnostic tool for our veterinary internal medicine service. If they are seeing a patient that is ill, we often examine the eyes to look for a systemic disease such as high blood pressure, cancer, or a fungal disease.”

One of the most memorable cases the ophthalmology service treated during Gilmour’s nearly ten years at the veterinary hospital was a trauma case involving a dog.

“A golden retriever was running at Boomer Lake and ran into a branch. The stick had pierced the dog’s head just on the inner side of its eyeball. The owner had the calm nerve to remove the stick and bring her to the hospital’s 24/7 emergency room.”

Gilmour goes on to say that the dog was obviously in pain. They anesthetized her and began removing the splinters left behind from the stick.

“Under our microscope, each splinter looked like a tree,” recalls Gilmour. “We removed splinters from beside and behind the eye for at least 45 minutes. It was amazing to see how far behind the eye the stick traveled without penetrating the eye. It was a most rewarding case because the dog never lost its eyesight and healed well.”

While owners may not have a lot of control in protecting their animals’ eyes, there are few precautions they can take.

“If you own a horse with white around its eye, use a mask with specific ultraviolet protection,” says Gilmour. “Like in humans, ultraviolet light can lead to cancer. These horses are susceptible to squamous cell carcinoma cancer and can lose their eye. It is important to protect them from the UV rays.” “For dog owners, don’t let your dogs ride with their heads out the car window,” adds McCully.

While general practitioner veterinarians are equipped to measure tear production and stain for ulcerations, the OSU veterinary hospital has equipment and faculty/staff expertise to handle that and much more due to specialization.

“We have an electroretinogram to determine retinal function and an ocular ultrasound to examine structures in the eye not visible on the exam such as the retina behind an opaque cataract,” explains Gilmour. “We can measure eye pressure and use magnifying instruments that allow us to look both in the front of and the back of the eye in much greater detail.”

The list of services available at the veterinary hospital includes ophthalmic surgery involving the eyelids and the globe (cornea, lens, laser treatment for glaucoma), diagnostics, slit lamp biomicroscopy and indirect ophthalmoscopy.

Vision testing can be a challenge but Gilmour often uses how an animal tracks falling cotton balls or how they maneuver through an obstacle course to determine the extent of vision.

“A dog can’t hear cotton balls land and can’t smell them so they have to watch them. Using an obstacle course and varying the lighting can help determine if a dog has poor night vision or has difficulty seeing low-contrast items or low objects. Determining the level of vision loss can alter therapy. If an animal has permanently lost vision it is important for owners to know the necessary precautions for keeping their pet safe.”

Gilmour earned her DVM from Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She completed a one year Small Animal Medicine and Surgery Internship at the University of Georgia followed by a one year Residency in Ophthalmology at Veterinary Ophthalmology of New England. She then completed a three year Residency in Ophthalmology at The Ohio State University. After working in private practices in Florida, Kentucky and Washington, she came to OSU in 2001 to teach, treat patients and do research.

“I chose ophthalmology because it emcompasses both medicine and surgery and involves treating all species,” says Gilmour.

McCully earned her veterinary technician degree from OSU-OKC/ Murray State College followed by her certification exam to become a registered veterinary technician, which is similar to a registered nurse in human medicine. She came to OSU in 2004 and began working with the Ophthalmology Department in 2006. McCully is the ophthalmology RVT whenever Gilmour is on clinics.

Gilmour and McCully offer pet owners this advice: If you have a concern about your pet’s eyes, call and make an appointment. While 75 percent of their cases come as referrals from veterinarians, a referral appointment is not always necessary since the OSU’s veterinary hospital is open to the public.

“For some diseases, early intervention is key,” adds McCully. “If the disease goes on too long, the damage can’t be reversed. However, if seen early on, vision may be preserved.”

The Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences is one of 28 veterinary colleges in the United States and is fully accredited by the Council on Education of the American Veterinary Medical Association. The center’s Boren Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital is open to the public and provides routine and specialized care for small and large animals. It also offers 24-hour emergency care and is certified by the American Animal Hospital Association. For more information, visit or call (405) 744-7000.