Archive for the ACCESS Los Angeles Category

Five ways Interventional Radiology can save your pet’s life.

Interventional Radiology (IR) involves the use of an imaging technology called fluoroscopy that allows us to “see” into the body indirectly. With this capability, we’re able to perform diagnostics and treatments by entering the body through natural orifices or blood vessels which eliminates the need for traditional surgery.

Examples of Interventional Radiology in human medicine include implantation of coronary artery stents and even treating cancer. We’ve adopted the principles of Interventional Radiology to help our veterinary patients – your pets – as well in procedures such as:

1) Treatment of Ureteral Obstructions

According to a study published in 2013 ureteral obstructions are currently the #1 cause of acute kidney failure in cats.

The ureter is the tiny (under half a millimeter in diameter!) tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder. Ureteral obstruction can occur when a kidney stone passing through the ureter gets stuck. This blocks the flow of urine to the bladder which leads to kidney damage and the build-up of uremic toxins in the body–big time bad news. This condition can cause critical illness within hours and requires emergency treatment.

Traditional decompressive surgical treatments for this condition had high complication rates – up to 34-60% patients had an unsuccessful outcome with surgery. With newer techniques that utilize Interventional Radiology the success rate increased to 80-95%.

2) Treatment of Severe Tracheal Collapse

Tracheal collapse is a common problem in small breed dogs that can cause the airway to narrow. This leads to frequent coughing, exercise intolerance, and cyanosis (turning blue from lack of air). Medications can provide effective relief for about 80% of patients.

But for those patients with particularly severe forms of the condition, a tracheal stent can help open the airway, allow them to breathe more normally, and improve their quality of life. Tracheal stents can be placed using Interventional Radiology techniques so patients can often go home the same day.

3) Treatment of Urethral Obstruction

The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body. This tube can become blocked in patients who have tumors in the bladder or the urethra itself. This type of blockage can be extremely uncomfortable and may lead to urinary tract infections, kidney damage, and rupture of the bladder.

Urethral stenting can be performed relatively quickly and allows us to open the urethra to allow the patient to urinate. As with tracheal stenting, these patients often go home the same day.

4) Treatment of Cancer

Sometimes patients have tumors that are either too big or too close to other vital organs to be removed with surgery. Oral or injectable chemotherapy is generally not very effective for these tumors and exposes the patient to troubling side effects of chemotherapy drugs. In some cases, we can make a very small incision into a blood vessel in the inner thigh and guide a catheter through this blood vessel into the tumor.

From there a strong, targeted dose of chemotherapy can be delivered straight to the tumor, followed by an embolization compound to cut off the flow to the tumor. This technique offers a safe treatment for patients that previously had no other options.

5) Transvenous Coil Embolization for Intrahepatic Portosystemic Shunts

Portosystemic shunts are congenital abnormalities (aka birth defects) in which major blood vessels to the liver grow around the organ rather than into it. When the abnormal (shunt) vessel is located within the liver lobes, it is called an intrahepatic shunt. When the shunting vessel is located some distance away from the liver, it is called an extrahepatic shunt.

Extrahepatic shunts are easily accessed by opening the abdomen, but intrahepatic shunts are much more difficult to access because they are deep within the tissues of the liver. Surgery to fix extrahepatic shunts is very successful, but this is not the case for intrahepatic shunts. Surgery in these cases carries a complication rate of up to 77%, with overall mortality rates as high as 64%.

Using Interventional Radiology techniques, the shunt can be accessed through the jugular vein and treated without ever opening the abdomen. The complication rate for this procedure is about 2%, with good long-term success in about 75% of cases. Patients generally stay the night after the procedure and go home the next day with a small bandage on their neck!

A big thank you to Jodi Kuntz, DVM, DACVIM (SAIM) for helping us with this list…


Five signs it’s time to take your pet to the ER


If only pets could talk! Even if pets can’t necessarily voice their problems, there are signs that you should watch out for that can point to injury or illness:

  • Bleeding: Even minor cuts, bleeding masses, or bite wounds have the potential of getting infected.
  • Difficulty breathing: Increased respiratory rate or effort while your pet is at rest could indicate major problems within the thorax, such as issues with the heart and/or lungs 
  • Vomiting/Diarrhea: Because both of these signs can cause dehydration, it is always better to bring your pet in for evaluation rather than let the illness persist 
  • Seizures: These may present as full body convulsions, or even just a “fly-biting” facial twitch. Although the brain is commonly the culprit for this, there are other disease processes that could cause this type of behavior.
  • Lameness: A limping/lame pet is a painful pet. It is always warranted to have a veterinarian evaluate if this sign is noted.

By catching the signs early and getting your pet evaluated as soon as possible, you are being the best advocate for your pet that you can be! Although we’re showcasing these five signs, please also keep in mind that there are many other signs that may indicate need for a veterinarian’s evaluation. Pets that have hives, possible toxin ingestion, cats or dogs that are straining to urinate, or any animal who is severely lethargic or not eating may also be in danger. If you are considering whether or not to bring your pet to the emergency room, it is always best to just take him or her and know that you are doing all you can to “speak” for your pet.

A big thank you to Danielle Sawyer DVM, Practice Limited to Emergency and Critical Care, for helping us with this list…


6 Things to Consider When Getting a Pet

1. Cost
Your new little family member is going to require a lot – food, licensing, routine vaccinations and exams, a spay/neuter, emergency room visits, and in some cases they may need specialty care or even lifelong medication. If you’re thinking about getting a dog, cat, or exotic pet, make sure you have a little bit of savings to care for them.

2. Lifespan
There are many, many different species of animals and they all have a different life expectancy. It’s preferred to give your pet a great forever home, so if you’re not ready to care for a Macaw for 50 years, consider a dog. If you think you won’t be able to live with a Golden for 12 years, consider a hamster!

3. Husbandry
Do you know what you’re actually supposed to feed your bunny, dog, pig, duck, or rat? Make sure you know what your pet needs to stay healthy. That means speaking with veterinarians—don’t just trust what you’ve read online!

4. Toxins
Are you ready to pet-proof your home? Things that we consider safe can sometimes be fatal to our pets! Make sure you research common toxins for your pet and speak with a veterinary professional if you have any questions. Just because your Aunt told you her dog ate chocolate and was fine does not mean that chocolate isn’t a toxin—don’t accept anecdotal evidence!

5. Adjustment Period
It’s going to take some time for your new best friend to get used to their new home, family, and schedule—take it easy! Just like people, each animal has their own likes and dislikes and certain things can make them nervous. Know that they may have an adjustment period as they get settle in with their new forever family. (

6. Illness
Not many people know that animals can get sick and they don’t always show it right away. Brush up on the ways your pet can show that they’re in pain as well as other abnormal symptoms. Illness can range from vomiting and diarrhea to asthma and heart failure to kidney failure, and certain species or breeds are predisposed to some serious conditions. Always call your primary veterinarian if you’re concerned about your pet.

Always remember, adopt don’t shop!


Hello, Thomas!

Thomas is a five-month-old Hamster who belongs to one of our Avian & Exotic Pet department team members who drove 80 miles to go rescue him!


On the Road Again…

This week, we partnered up with two chapters of the SCVMA to provide continuing education lectures for their members. The SCVMA (which stands for Southern California Veterinary Medical Association) is basically a club for those in the veterinary field. Members meet about once a month to have dinner while a guest speaker comes to talk about something pertaining to veterinary medicine and in exchange, attendees get credits they need to maintain their license.

First up was our new Avian & Exotics Pet specialist, Dr. Anthony Pilny. He recently joined ACCESS – Los Angeles and spoke with the Northbay Westside chapter about dental disease in rabbits. We learned that this is a very serious problem that can cause a handful of other issues that can become fatal. Dr. Pilny’s important talk was very well-received, and his entire department came along to support him!

Later in the week, we brought Dr. Amelia Sinkin to the 94th Aero Squadron to talk about Pulmonary Hypertension to the San Fernando Valley chapter. Dr. Sinkin is the newest cardiologist to join our cardio team at the San Fernando Valley hospital, and those in attendance couldn’t stop talking about how great her presentation and lecture style was.

We had a great time and we can’t wait to get back out there on the lecture circuit!


Porcine Interior Decorator at your service…

Millie was giving Dr. Schachterle some design advice for her office! Need an avian and exotics doctor? Call us at 310-558-6100!


Salmon the snake stops-by…

Salmon is a beautiful snake that belongs to one of our Registered Veterinary Technicians, Bonnie! Salmon came in to visit everyone and quickly made friends with our team.


Tails from the road – Doctor Edition!

We love it when our specialists take the time to visit local primary veterinary hospitals. Whether it’s because our doctors are new to ACCESS, are bringing holiday cheer, or simply want to check-in and say hello, you never know where and when you might spot them on the road!


Furry and Fabulous!

Davis belongs to one of our amazing technicians at ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospital – Los Angeles and he’s excited to go as Stitch for Halloween!


Intussusception Interception…

Jeff is a Basset Hound puppy who came to us with intussusception which is when the intestines telescope in on themselves. Left untreated, intussusception can kill the animal – or human – affected by it.

This actually happened twice with Jeff. Luckily when Dr. Annie Lo, a board-certified surgeon, went in to reverse the intussusception, it had self-corrected so fixing it with surgery wasn’t necessary!

She also took samples to biopsy to be sure this pup was healthy. Dr. Steven Centola (pictured) also oversaw Jeff’s care while he was in the hospital and much like everyone else at ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospital – Los Angeles, he fell in love with Jeff!


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South Bay

2551 W. 190th St., Torrance, CA 90504

Tel: (310) 320-8300 - Fax: (424) 293-7254

Los Angeles

9599 Jefferson Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232

Tel: (310) 558-6100 - Fax: (310) 558-6199

San Fernando Valley

20051 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills, CA 91364

Tel: (818) 887-2262 - Fax: (818) 704-0323

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