Managing Director of Fitzpatrick Referrals, Professor Noelac Fitzpatrick (MVB DUniv CertVR DSAS(Orth) DrS(hon) ACVSMR ECVSMR MRCVS) attended the American College of Veterinary Surgeons Surgery Summit (ACVS) in October to present the Keynote Lecture for the first time in his 25 year career.
Noel’s keynote presentation “Revolution or Evolution? Ethics & Engineering of Bionic Biology” distils his 25 years of experience and innovation in musculo-neuro-skeletal pathology, outlining our choices going forwards in the field of neuro-orthopaedic surgery with regard to rehabilitation, regenerative medicine, medical management, and surgical intervention using an integrated balanced approach for both the patient and the client.
Noel also focussed on the importance of ethics, evidence, and efficacy as they pertain to rehabilitation, regenerative medicine modalities, surgical or medical intervention for diseases of the axial and appendicular skeleton as well as the decision making process to operate, rehabilitate, or both with reference to etiopathogenesis and prognostication for various interventions, with the aim of providing functional pain-free quality of life.
The lecture marks a first for Noel, who said: “For over twenty years I have been attending ACVS, as a delegate and as a speaker, and I recognise the significance of this moment for myself personally and professionally. I shall be taking a tour from basic to advanced neuroorthopaedic techniques in the context of the IDEAL framework – idea, development, exploration, assessment and long-term study as indicated for innovation in similar aspects of human surgery. This subject is very close to my heart, as I believe veterinary medicine needs to constantly revaluate our modes of thinking towards ethics and engineering as we head toward the future of bionic biology.
“When I lectured in America in the 90s it was the very first time I had used a laptop, having only had access to slide carousels to that point. American audiences accepted me into their community since then and I’m deeply grateful. This lecture is the biggest event of my career to date and I am hugely honoured to be asked to share my perspective on the vitally important issues of ethics and engineering as we try to inspire the next generation of veterinary professionals.
“I believe that we are at a crossroads in veterinary medicine. For the very first time in over 200 years of divergence of human and animal medicine, veterinary medical techniques can be the same as those available for humans, if we sochoose. Furthermore, modern diagnostic tests allow us to interrogate the skeleton and metabolic functions to the extent that I feel we must begin to question why human medicine needs to sacrifice animal lives as the defined end-point for most drug and implant experimental studies. I believe that the time has come for meaningful dialogue between regulatory bodies and the vet and human medical professions regarding whether an ethically and morally robust framework can be constructed for deployment of new drugs and implants in clinical patients, both animal and human, more rapidly and in a more safety-conscious fashion than ever before. I believe societal support for animal testing is dwindling and that both the human and veterinary medical professions are increasingly recognising that guidelines for co-operation on a common platform of One Medicine warrants exploration.
“Human medical techniques and implants are advancing quickly and they usually use an animal experimental model on which to test efficacy and safety. We have a clear choice whether we allow definitive and rapid progress in companion animals or we block that progress because we consider operating with advanced new generation implants on a canine patient less ethical than operating on an experimental dog. Of course we have a fundamental responsibility for the families of these animals practically, legally, morally, ethically and financially. Techniques will progress anyway and as a profession we can lead or follow, the choice is ours. We need to decide whether we as a profession wish to withhold choice of certain implants for companion animals, whilst human medicine progresses, having already tested similar techniques on experimental animals.
“I will reflect on the ethics of deployment of commercially available and patient specific custom implants. There is considerable debate at the highest levels of our profession whether clinical veterinary practice is pushing too far, and meanwhile I wonder if we are critically examining outcomes of new devices which are ubiquitously embraced and implanted in both specialist and nonspecialist practice, and whether we are examining value for money and discussing all of the options all of the time for clients.”
LISTENING TO THE ANIMALS
In this inspiring, uplifting and heartwarming memoir, world-renowned veterinary surgeon Professor Noel Fitzpatrick explores his journey to becoming The Supervet.
As heart-warming and life-affirming as the TV show with which he made his name, Listening to the Animals is a story of love, hope and compassion, and about rejoicing in the bond between humans and animals that make us the very best we can be.
Available online and in book shops.