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by Marcia Hill Gossard ’99, ’04 Ph.D. | Photo by Henry Moore Jr.

In a small, windowless room, four veterinarians simultaneously tie sutures, biopsy a liver, and perform minimally invasive abdominal surgery. No, this is not a typical operating room. It is a veterinary laparoscopic training laboratory—the first of its kind in the nation.

But earlier this year before the WSU Veterinary Applied Laparoscopic Training, or VALT, laboratory got its new virtual laparoscopic trainer, the only place to watch the virtual procedures was on a small laptop computer monitor.

“The small monitor made it difficult to really see and get a feel for what was happening,” said Dr. Boel Fransson, director of the VALT laboratory. The virtual laparoscopic trainer has a real feel and provides immediate feedback to surgeons during training.

Thanks to four generous donors, veterinarians training in laparoscopic surgery can now view their procedures on a big screen, high definition television monitor. Long-time college supporters John and Charyn Zarzycki, who also support a student scholarship, along with Dr. Rick DeBowes, associate dean of Veterinary Development and External Relations, and an anonymous donor understand how vital this kind of training is for surgeons.

“We are so grateful for this new television monitor,” said Dr. Fransson. “It is invaluable for teaching and learning the latest techniques in laparoscopic surgery.”

Laparoscopic surgery is being used more often in veterinary medicine because of the same advantages to patients seen in humans. Risks associated with traditional open surgery are minimized, pain is reduced and easier to control, and patients often recovery much more quickly. It is also a valuable tool that allows veterinarians to run diagnostic tests they may not otherwise be able to perform.

“Currently we are training residents and veterinarians at WSU in our lab,” said Dr. Fransson. “Our plan is to open it up to DVM students as an elective. We hope in the future to even invite surgeons from other universities to come train in our lab.”

Related Article: How Virtual Reality is Changing Veterinary Medicine