Internal Medicine Conference Highlights Timely Topics

The 27th annual American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) Forum gave equine veterinarians an opportunity to discuss and share the latest advances in veterinary medicine. The ACVIM is the official organization of the veterinary specialties of small animal internal medicine, large animal internal medicine, cardiology, neurology, and oncology.


Sally Vivrette, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, explained her diagnostic methods to discover the wire lodged in the soft tissue of Peanut's lower jaw at the 2003 ACVIM Forum.

While the final count of attending large animal specialists is not yet available, there were more than 2,800 individuals in attendance--2,436 veterinarians, 277 veterinary technicians, and 119 veterinary students--not including the exhibitors in the ACVIM trade show.

Starting off the forum, resident veterinarians (those working at universities or clinics on getting boarded in internal medicine) and other practitioners gave 15-minute presentations on June 4 to present results of research projects, and field questions from other conference attendees. Residents had research posters on display during the forum, and were available to answer questions about their projects during a designated time on June 5.

Two learning tracks for the equine veterinarian--Equine Generalist and Equine Specialist--ran simultaneously June 5-7. Topics ranged from older horse problems to West Nile virus (WNV), and from cloning to intestinal inflammation. In an extra session that was added at the last minute to the schedule, veterinarians packed a room to hear clinicians from The Ohio State University and internationally-known immunologists discuss equine herpesvirus-1 and the logistics of handling an outbreak of the virus in a hospital facility. OSU officials experienced this problem first-hand earlier this year. Additionally, Maureen Long, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, assistant professor of large animal veterinary medicine at the University of Florida, offered her ideas on the upcoming WNV season.

Please check back at for information gleaned from topics presented at the ACVIM forum.

"Pet Survivor"

Conference organizers also featured animals that have benefited from the treatment of internal medicine specialists in a session for the press called Pet Survivor. "Peanut," a 5-year-old Appaloosa gelding, was the equine subject featured on the ballroom terrace of the convention center, with his owner Kelly Raynor of Four Oaks, NC, and Sally Vivrette, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, a private practitioner in Cary, N.C.

Vivrette said that Raynor called and described Peanut’s clinical signs: a swollen head, drooling, inability to eat feed or hay, fever, and colic. Raynor and a local veterinarian believed he might have rabies and would have to be euthanized.

Raynor and the local veterinarian were "trying to give oral antibiotics, were pumping Peanut with'gruel' and water, and were preparing to run fluids," according to Raynor, when she decided to give Vivrette a call. She'd worked with Vivrette when the vet was at North Carolina State University in prior years.

Vivrette said that she believed that rabies was unlikely, because in a rabies case, the horse's head won't necessarily be swollen. She couldn't ignore the possibility that it might be something else causing Peanut's difficulties, so she did a manual examination of Peanut's mouth, a visual examination with a speculum, an endoscopic exam to look at the gelding’s nasal passages, and took radiographs to no avail in finding the cause of the strange clinical signs. When she used ultrasound, she found a disruption in the tissue, which was actually a 3-inch wire lodged inside the soft tissue in his lower jaw. Under field anesthesia, Vivrette found and removed the wire.

"When I did the surgery, it was very hard—like finding a needle in a haystack. It took a certain portion of skill, and a good portion of luck to finding that ‘needle’ and pulling it out." After nine to 10 sutures and some follow-up antibiotics, Peanut is back to good health, safely and happily serving as the mount of Raynor's 5-year-old daughter.

Debra Sellon, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, of Washington State University, and president of the specialty of large animal internal medicine within the ACVIM, said that many clients do not realize that there are veterinarians in their areas that have undergone the extra training and testing it takes to become specialists in internal medicine, and she encourages horse owners to look for that expertise when making decisions involving the health of their horses. While many ACVIM diplomates are on staff at university veterinary hospitals, Sellon said that she's seeing more specialists in private practice.

Horse owners can easily find internal medicine specialists in their area by visiting, and clicking on the links under "Find a Specialist Near You" at the bottom of the page.


About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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