The Board Certified Surgeon Versus the General Practitioner with Extra Training

There are surgical cases that truly require the advanced training, skills, and experience of a board certified surgeon; however, there are other cases where the surgical abilities of a general practitioner with some extra training will be just fine for the patient. And let’s face it, sometimes the extra cost and wait times of sending a patient to a full-service referral hospital are simply not feasible.

The main difference between the GP and specialist is the depth and breadth of knowledge. Clearly the GP has a huge breadth of knowledge that the specialist does not (we tend to forget information when not using it regularly); on the other hand, the specialist spends additional years just studying and understanding the one topic. So no amount of week-end TPLO courses that a GP might take will bring your knowledge to that same depth. Having said that, surgery is a numbers game. The more times you do a procedure, the better you become at that procedure.

So when deciding if you need to send your patient to a specialist for a TPLO or call in a local GP who has done many. Ask yourself the following question: Is this a routine TPLO case? yes, if it is a 30kg labrador, no if it a 55kg mastiff; no if it is a 30kg labrador with cushings and is hypothyroid or has other orthopedic issues to consider. Although the surgery is the same one, the GP maybe not have enough depth of knowledge to retrieve the information necessary to alter the technique or post-operative management to accommodate the not so common case.

We encourage you to watch the video for a comprehensive understanding of this relevant topic.