The November 2010 founding of Pittsburgh Veterinary Radiation Oncology (PVRO) marks the culmination of several years of planning and collaboration of the owners of the PVSEC Internal Medicine, Oncology, and Surgery services. The hiring of radiation oncologist, Dr. Koichi Nagata, to manage the planning and administration of radiation treatments and the completion of outfitting the 2000 square-foot radiation therapy wing with a linear accelerator purchased from the University of Chicago Health System were the final steps enabling the PVSEC to establish a comprehensive cancer treatment facility for pets.
With a group of PVSEC veterinary specialists trained in radiation oncology, medical oncology, and oncologic surgery, the PVSEC Cancer Center will join the ranks of the University of Pennsylvania Ryan Veterinary Hospital, the only other comprehensive veterinary cancer center in Pennsylvania.
The PVSEC Radiation Therapy service sees patients referred by veterinary practices, and often treats those pets first evaluated by medical oncologists, such as PVSEC's Dr. Rebecca Newman, Dr. Todd Erfourth and Dr. Bridget Urie. Once Drs. Newman, Erfourth or Urie evaluate the patient's specific conditions and discuss the option of radiation therapy with the pet's owners, they will refer the case further to the radiation therapy service.
Consultation appointments with Dr. Nagata are scheduled Tuesday-Thursday afternoons, during which he will examine the pet and discuss the steps in developing an individualized treatment plan for the pet.
A computed tomography (CT) scan is often scheduled as part of the initial medical oncology evaluation with Drs. Newman or Erfourth. The CT images are used to generate a computerized radiation therapy plan. This planning process generally takes several days to complete and radiation treatments are not performed the same day as the CT scan.
In preparation for the medical oncology consultation:
- Food should be withheld after midnight the evening prior to the appointment unless the patient is diabetic. Water should be provided for all patients at all times.
- Patients that are diabetic should receive food, insulin and any medications as usual.
- Medications should be administered as directed unless the referring veterinarian indicates otherwise.
- Owners should call PVSEC (412-366-3400) with any questions regarding fasting instructions.
For those patients receiving radiation therapy on a daily treatment regimen, boarding at PVSEC may be a good option. If overnight hospitalization is required, PVSEC will make every effort to keep your pet comfortable. Bedding and hiding places for cats are provided, cats are given litter boxes, and all patients receive food and water if their medical condition allows. Ambulatory dogs are walked every four hours. Doctors and technicians are present on-site at all times, 24-hours a day.
Patient Updates for Hospitalized Patients
A veterinary technician will call with a medical update once daily, unless arranged otherwise. Update calls are generally made in the afternoon to allow Dr. Nagata and staff to place priority on patient care. We realize it is difficult to wait for information regarding your pet. Rest assured that we will call immediately in the event of an emergency or change in medical status requiring significant decisions. Communication is greatly expedited and simplified by the designation of one family member as a contact person. Owners are asked to leave all appropriate phone numbers with the receptionists.
We will call you with test results and the doctor's recommendations (e.g. medications or rechecks) as they become available. Please note that repeated calls to check on results require that we remove the patient file from the results bin, causing delays. A veterinary technician will contact you if your pet's results are normal or indicate minor abnormalities. This expedites communication of results and allows our doctors to report critical results more efficiently. If questions or concerns remain after reviewing results with a technician, a doctor can call back to address them. Your referring veterinarian will receive all test results and any additional recommendations after they have been discussed with you.
Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center is a unique veterinary hospital. There are fewer than 30 hospitals like us in the country. Because we are open 24 hours a day and provide specialized services in addition to emergency services, our fees for the care given and procedures performed may be higher than a normal veterinary visit.
And that's why we make sure you are given an estimate during your initial visit. When you are dealing with a sick pet, the last thing you need is a surprise on your vet bill.
A deposit equal to the low end of the estimate is required for pets needing hospitalization. As we gather diagnostic information and assess response to treatment, we may find that your pet requires additional hospitalization and care. Our policy is to call the owners of all hospitalized patients once a day to inform them of the current charges. Estimates are updated when the charges start to exceed the high end of the initial estimate. We encourage you to ask questions so that you feel comfortable.
Pet owners may ask us for estimates to treat and diagnose their pet over the phone. Please understand that we are unable to give you an accurate estimate without first examining your pet at our facility. We feel that one of the most valuable services we can offer to you is the initial consultation with one of our veterinarians. The doctor will review the history with you, look over any prior medical records including laboratory work and radiographs, perform a complete physical examination and sometimes even consult with other specialists in the hospital. During the consultation we also want to determine your wishes and goals. We believe that this process is the best way to give you the most accurate information about your pets medical condition, the prognosis, options for care, and the costs associated with treatment.
Complete payment is due when your pet is discharged. We accept MasterCard, Visa, Discover, American Express and personal checks. If one of these payment options is not preferable, third party financing through Care Credit is available.
If you are interested in this option please visit the Care Credit Website to fill out an application. Type in our hospital name (Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center) and our phone number (412-366-3400) when it asks for your doctor's information. We accept two different plans from Care Credit so that you can make the best decision for your current financial position.