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The Ralpher – March 2019 Edition


We can’t believe how quickly our first month in the hospital has gone – whoosh! After 5 years in the making we opened our doors to patients on 14th February, and are excited to be sharing this part of the journey with you. In our very first edition of The Ralpher, we will be hearing tales from the clinical floor, getting to know Team Ralph, as well as sharing the latest Ralph news.
As always, we would love to hear from our community members. So if you have a question,
feedback, or suggestion please drop us a line.

Take care,

Team Ralph


In this month’s edition…

Spotlight on Surgery:
Meet Sam + Stefano, our soft-tissue and orthopaedic surgeons and learn more about what we are up to at The Ralph.

Tales from the clinical floor:
It has been a busy month. Here we showcase just 2 of our patients, their procedures and their recoveries.

Tea with Tricia:
Meet Tricia, one of our wonderful Customer Care Team!

More information:
Dates for our CPD evening in April, a chance to book in a lunch + learn, and how you can refer to us!


We have an announcement!

From 1st April, Danielle Whittaker, a Neurology and Neurosurgery Diplomate, joins The Ralph to launch our Neurology and Neurosurgery Service.
Danielle graduated from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) in 2009. After completing an internship at the RVC she spent time in charity practice before undertaking a PhD. Danielle then completed clinical training in Neurology and Neurosurgery at the RVC and is now a specialist in that area. She will be supported by our Surgery Service to ensure The Ralph is available 24-7-365 for neurosurgical emergencies.

Also joining us in April is a Surgery Diplomate, with a special interest in Soft Tissue surgery and in interventional medicine. They will be joining Sam and Stefano in our Surgery Service.
Keep an eye out in our next edition of The Ralpher for more details on our new starters!


Spotlight on Surgery

The Ralph Surgery Service investigates and treats an extensive range of surgical conditions, including Soft Tissue and Orthopaedic disorders. Sam, Stefano and the surgical team work closely with our other services to provide a comprehensive and integrated approach to each patient’s care. Patients who undergo surgery at The Ralph have a focused perioperative care plan. They benefit from 24-7 excellent and compassionate care provided by our dedicated and highly qualified team.

Sam, Stefano and the surgical team utilise a range of specialist surgical and non-surgical equipment to support their delivery of excellent and compassionate care. This includes, but is not limited to, advanced diagnostic imaging (CT and MRI scanning), minimally invasive ‘keyhole’ techniques, gait analysis to assess multiple limb lameness, and intensive patient monitoring and support as needed.

The types of surgical procedures we perform at The Ralph include:

  • Upper respiratory tract surgery (e.g. brachycephalic obstruction airway syndrome (BOAS), laryngeal paralysis, tracheostomies)
  • Urogenital surgery (e.g. ectopic ureter, nephrectomy/nephrotomy, cystotomy, urethrostomy, prostatic surgery, urethral sphincter mechanism incompetence, subcutaneous ureteral bypass system (SUBS))
  • Head and neck surgery (e.g. total ear canal ablation and lateral bulla osteotomy, ventral bulla osteotomy, salivary mucocoele, thyroidectomy/parathyroidectomy)
  • Abdominal surgery (e.g. hiatal hernia, splenectomy, portosystemic shunt, gastric dilation-volvulus (GDV), hepatic lobectomy, biliary diversion surgery, adrenalectomy)
  • Thoracic surgery (e.g. vascular ring anomalies, patent ductus arteriosus, pericardectomy, lung lobectomy, diaphragmatic hernia, thymoma removal)
  • Reconstructive surgery (e.g. oncological resections, skin flaps, skin grafts)
  • Minimally invasive surgical procedures (laparoscopic and thorascopic procedures)
  • Fracture repair (internal and external fixation)
  • Cruciate ligament surgery (Slocum TPLO using Synthes equipment)
  • Medial patella luxation repair
  • Arthrodesis
  • Angular limb deformity correction
  • Elbow dysplasia management (proximal abducting ulnar osteotomy, PAUL)
  • Arthroscopy
  • Luxation/sprains/shear injury repair
  • Joint replacements, including total hip replacement

If you would like to get in touch with Sam or Stefano, please email [email protected]

Tales from the clinical floor


Hansel and Nell have recently had cataract surgery at The Ralph – they are special, not only because they are both very sweet-natured, gentle little dogs, but also because they are the first patients to have cataract surgery here.

They are an interesting pair because they represent two different types of hereditary cataract that are recognised in the breed. They have been rescued from a puppy farm and so the cataracts are likely to have been present for a long time. Chronic cataracts are often hypermature (‘over-ripe’) and associated with lens induced uveitis (inflammation resulting from the release of lens protein). Uveitis increases the risk of complications such as retinal detachment and secondary glaucoma, and can also make the surgery technically more demanding.

Hansel had typical adult-onset cataract that is complete, i.e. causes blindness. The cataract was very hypermature and there were signs of chronic lens induced uveitis. Nell had congenital nuclear cataract, associated with microphthalmos (an abnormally small eye). Pre-operative ultrasound was particularly important for them both to check for problems such as retinal detachment and abnormal congenital vasculature (persistent hyaloid artery).

The cataracts were removed by the standard technique in veterinary ophthalmology – phacoemulsification. The surgery is performed through a 2.8mm corneal incision, with the aid of an operating microscope. In order to operate on a fixed, central eye, the general anesthetic is performed with neuromuscular blockade and mechanical ventilation, under the care of an experienced anaesthetist. An artificial lens implant was placed in the operated eyes (an intraocular lens, or IOL). The implant is made of hydrophobic acrylic – this material is known to reduce post-operative inflammation and scarring.

Hansel and Nell have been living together at The Diana Brimblecombe Animal Rescue Centre (DBARC), and were hospitalised as a pair for as long as was practical. At the first post-operative check-up, both Hansel and Nell were making very good progress and were tolerating the intensive medical regime very well, administered by their very kind and experienced carers.

ECC and Orthopaedics

Rocko, a male Staffordshire Bull Terrier presented to our Emergency and Critical Care Service for evaluation and management of polytrauma. He had been hit by a car and had developed pneumothorax, pulmonary contusions, mild brain injury and haemperitoneum. He also had a comminuted fracture of the right femoral diaphysis with severe secondary haemorrhage. Rocko was stabilised, supported and closely monitored in our dedicated Dog Intensive Care Unit. During this period he required a blood transfusion but no surgical intervention for the haemoperitoneum. When Rocko was stable enough, radiographs were performed which confirmed comminuted and spiral fractures of the right femur with multiple fragments extending close to the stifle and hip joints.

Our Orthopaedic Surgeon, Stefano, repaired the fracture using a plate and rod system, with a supracondylar plate.

Our Veterinary Physiotherapist, Kim, assessed Rocko post-operatively and helped devise a rehabilitation plan. Rocko is now recovering well at home.

Tea with Tricia

Tricia is one of the members of our fabulous Customer Care Team. She joined us on 14th January (even before the hospital opened) and was immediately a fantastic energy with her never-ending enthusiasm. Here we sit down with Tricia (and a cup of tea!) to learn a bit more about what makes her tick…

Tell us a bit about yourself Tricia…

I come from a secretarial background, working as the PA to the Director of Guinness, and subsequently the Director of Reed International. I love working with people, and so these roles were perfect for me. I then worked for 10 years at the Citizens Advice Bureau which was interesting to say the least, and where I became skilled at thinking on my feet! Then for the past 4 years, I was Secretary to two solicitors who worked in Family Law before finally joining The Ralph. I am a huge fan of the Red Arrows and fast jets (the noisier the better). I am always reading about and fascinated by Tudor history. I love to dance, particularly ceroc and have received medals for my Latin and ballroom dancing.

What inspired you to join The Ralph?

You reach certain points in your life when you re-evaluate, and when I celebrated my last landmark birthday I decided to follow my heart and work with animals. I heard The Ralph was opening, so without hesitation I sent in an application and the rest as they say is history.

What do you enjoy most about being part of the Customer Care Team at The Ralph?

Giving a warm welcome to all of our patients and their carers. I also enjoy being a supportive ear to the carers, and enabling them to leave knowing their pet is in safe hands with us. You may find this hard to believe, but I do also find enjoyment in using our hospital management system, EzyVet!

Tricia you are always smiling, can you tell us your tip for providing excellent customer care?

Be polite, be courteous, and listen.


CPD Corner

Our first FREE CPD evening will take place on 29th April at 7:30pm.
The session titled, “50 Shades of Pale: Identification and Treatment of IMHA in Dogs and Cats” will be delivered by our Head of Internal Medicine, Magda Gerou-Ferriani. The event is open to all members of the veterinary community and will be hosted at our referral centre.

Check out our Events page for further details on the event and to register your attendance.


Fancy a Lunch + Learn?

Would you like to know more about what we do at The Ralph? Do you have some questions you would like to ask us?
Then let’s get a lunch and learn booked in. You bring the questions, we bring the lunch!
To request a lunch and learn, email [email protected]


The Ralph Culture Club

Our Customer Care Team member, Izzy, joined Team Ralph at the beginning of March and left her first week feeling empowered. So much so, Izzy wrote to our Customer Care Team Leader, Terrie, with her thoughts, “I had my first week at The Ralph and felt so welcomed and comfortable. I want to thank everyone for allowing me to feel empowered to be open and honest when I was doubting my ability to work here. It shows that Team Ralph is a team, and our values are being lived. ‘An environment where team members feel safe to voice concerns’ rings so true for me so I just wanted to say thank you.”


The Ralph Referral Portal

Keep up to date with your patients using our Referral Portal.

We like to pave our own way at The Ralph and are proud to be the first veterinary centre in the UK to utilise rVetLink technology – an online referral system which not only allows you to easily submit referrals online, it also keeps you updated on your patient’s progress whilst in our care.

By using the Referral Portal, your practice will receive email notifications including with lab results, imaging studies and clinical summaries; so you know when your patient has checked-in to the hospital and are well-informed of their care. You can access the portal via our Referral page and if you need to register your practice or have a question, please email [email protected]
Of course, the portal doesn’t replace the conversations we like to have with our referring practices, so if you ever need to discuss a referral please call us on
01628 308330.


Thank you for taking the time to read our news from our first month seeing patients. Stay tuned for our April edition of The Ralpher, and more tales from the clinical floor!

Take care,

Team Ralph

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