It is kind of an inside joke that every veterinarian and vet student knows and that is written on t-shirts and coffee cups, “real doctors treat more than one species.” It’s meant to emphasize the fact that veterinarians don’t just have to learn one species like some medical professionals, we have to know them all. I found that to be true yesterday on my food animal rotation.
A lame sheep came in with a swollen leg. It was hard to see the leg underneath the wool, but as we palpated the leg, it was definitely larger than the other one. We began by taking radiographs to look for any fractures or signs of infection within the bone, but we didn’t see any changes in the bone that would lead to the lameness. With that discovery, the intern on the case asked us if we had any ideas since the bones and foot looked good. I thought the leg looked like a bowed tendon did in a horse, so I suggested a tendon injury and that we do an ultrasound of the leg. The intern thought that was a great idea, except she didn’t know how to do an ultrasound on a sheep leg. I’d never done one either, but I have done a lot of horse legs and said I’d be happy to give it a shot. So, we went to work clipping the wool. While there are some differences in the anatomy of a sheep leg versus a horse leg, the idea was similar. I performed an ultrasound on the sheep’s good leg first so I could gauge what normal was and then went to work on the swollen leg. It became obvious quickly that there was a lot of swelling in the tendon sheath, and as I worked I found a core lesion in the tendon where some damage had occurred. We had a diagnosis! The attending vet came and confirmed our diagnosis, and we cast the leg to keep the sheep from flexing it so that it could heal.
It was a cool case and seemed to truly embody the saying “real doctors treat more than one species” to me.