PVSEC added radiation oncology to its list of specialty services in 2010, giving pet owners in Western Pennsylvania rare access to truly comprehensive cancer care for pets within a single practice. Still relatively new in veterinary medicine, the presence of a radiation oncology department is consistent with PVSEC’s commitment to patient care innovation.
The department went through a significant upgrade in early 2017 as PVSEC partnered with national cancer care provider PetCure Oncology to add a progressive form of radiation therapy called stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) to the list of services available within radiation oncology.
We see patients referred directly for radiation oncology by their general practitioner/family veterinarian or from our medical oncologists or other specialists. Often pets are first evaluated by a specialist in the medical oncology department, such as PVSEC's Dr. Rebecca Newman, Dr. Todd Erfourth or Dr. Bridget Urie for evaluation of the patient's specific conditions. If radiation oncology is an appropriate option, they will discuss the option of radiation oncology with the pet's owners and will refer the case further to the radiation oncology service. For your convenience, forms may be downloaded and completed in advance:
A computed tomography (CT) scan is often scheduled as part of the initial medical or radiation oncology evaluation. 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 the radiation oncologist 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 none of those methods are preferable, we offer third party financing through Care Credit. With Care Credit PVSEC offers 6 months deferred interest on charges over $200 or 24 months fixed rate interest on charges over $1000.
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.