At Your Service: Soft Tissue Surgery Service

The Soft Tissue Surgery service at Tufts Foster Hospital for Small Animals

is home to three board-certified surgeons, four surgical residents, expert surgery technicians and a team of surgery liaisons, all committed to providing comprehensive and advanced surgery services to meet the needs of small animal patients. We welcome the opportunity to consult not only on patients who are known surgical candidates but also those who might be an appropriate candidate.  We’ll discuss the treatment options and the cost, and provide clinical advice to help your client make the most informed decisions. Our surgeons are also happy to speak with you over the phone if you are contemplating a referral and want to discuss the case first.

We maintain a state-of-the-art surgical suite and have access to advanced diagnostic imaging, board-certified anesthesiologists, advanced pain management expertise, critical care, internal medicine and oncology specialists. Tufts Foster Hospital also offers minimally invasive surgery (MIS) – thoracoscopy and laparoscopy – for a number of common procedures, which can reduce postoperative pain and the length of hospital stays as compared to traditional surgery methods. Procedures we regularly perform using MIS include ovariectomy (“lap spay”), liver biopsy, pericardectomy and prophylactic gastropexy.  As New England’s only veterinary school, we also have clinical research studies under way that offer your clients access to innovative therapies not available elsewhere.

Our team of six liaisons facilitates care and provides service to our referring veterinarians and our clients. These individuals schedule appointments, serve as the connection between Tufts’ clinical departments, field inquiries from small animal pet owners and referring veterinarians, essentially serving as the communications hub for the care of our patients.  Their commitment to keeping the lines of communication open ensure that your experience remains consistent with the high standards of care we deliver to our patients and pet owners.

We view our relationship with referring veterinarians as a partnership, and the soft tissue surgery service team welcomes the opportunity to work together with you to ensure a continuity of care that is of the highest quality for you, your patients and clients.

Soft Tissue Surgeons and Faculty

berg1John Berg, DVM, MS, a board-certified soft tissue surgeon and faculty member, is a 1981 graduate of Colorado State University who completed his internship at Cornell, returning to Colorado State for his residency. Following his surgery residency, Dr. Berg spent a year in private practice in the Boston area before joining the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in 1987. Dr. Berg is adept at all types of small animal soft tissue surgery and is especially drawn to the surgical treatment of cancer, which is also the focus of his research.  Dr. Berg is an honorary member of the Veterinary Society of Surgical Oncology and ACVS Founding Fellow in surgical oncology.

Kudej,-RRaymond K. Kudej, PhD, DVM, DACVS, a board-certified small animal surgeon and faculty member, is a graduate of Iowa State University, where he pursued a veterinary degree, PhD and surgical residency. He later pursued postdoctoral studies at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Kudej (pronounced KOO-gee) joined the faculty and surgery staff at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in 2000, where his special surgical interests include nasal, reconstructive, thoracic and gastrointestinal surgery. Dr. Kudej is also a cardiovascular researcher with special interests in ischemia tolerance and associated metabolic mechanisms.

mccarthy1Dr. Robert McCarthy, DVM, DACVS, a board-certified surgeon and faculty member, specializes in both orthopedic and soft tissue surgery. A 1983 graduate and member of Tufts veterinarian medicine program’s first graduating class, he also served on the faculty of Louisiana State University and earned a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota. Dr. McCarthy returned to the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University as a faculty member in 1993. Although he works primarily with small companion animals, he also performs surgery on exotic, wildlife and zoo animals. He has a special interest in minimally invasive surgery (laparoscopy, arthroscopy) of all types.

To make a referral, you may contact the Surgery Liaison Team at 508-887-4794 or via e-mail at

At Your Service: Interdisciplinary Team

An Interdisciplinary Team Approach to Hepatobiliary Disease

At the Tufts Foster Hospital for Small Animals at the Cummings School Veterinary Medicine, we rely heavily on a talented team of veterinary specialists to help treat small animals with hepatobiliary disease.  Often times, diagnosing hepatobiliary disease is a complicated process given the liver’s wide-ranging role in digestion, intermediary metabolism and biotransformation. Additionally, the liver is sensitive to secondary injury from many systemic disorders as well.

The diagnosis of hepatobiliary disease often requires expert diagnostic imaging (ultrasound and scintigraphy) as well as histopathologic interpretation of hepatic biopsy material.

Tufts Foster Hospital for Small Animals is fortunate to have Dr. Dominque Penninck, one of the pioneers of hepatobiliary ultrasound, on staff. He is joined by pathologists, Dr. Sam Jennings, who trained with the world renowned veterinary hepatic pathologist Dr. John Cullen, and Dr. Arlen Rogers, whose research interests include animals models of hepatic cancer.

Both of our soft tissue surgeons, Dr. Ray Kudej and Dr. John Berg, have interests in  hepatobiliary and portovascular surgery.

Our cardiologist, Dr. John Rush, is also available to manage intrahepatic shunts with interventional radiology.  These individuals are complemented by a skilled group of board certified anesthesiologists who often help us with the complicated management of our critically ill patients with hepatobiliary disease.

Lastly, we have a team of nutritionists, including Dr. Lisa Freeman and Dr. Calin Heinze, who help us meet the dietary requirement of our patients.  Some nutrients that could be of concern often include sodium, copper and/or protein balance. In addition, many hepatobiliary patients have a need for the placement of enteral nutrition tubes and occasionally formulation of balanced homemade diets.

Cynthia RL Webster, DVM, DACVIM (Small Animal Internal Medicine)
Professor, Associate Chair
DACVIM (Internal Medicine)
Post-Doctorate, Tufts Medical School, Department Physiology 1991-1993
DVM – Cornell University – 1985
BS – Simmons College – 1978

Dominique Penninck, DVM, ACVR
PhD – University of Liege, Belgium
DVM – University of Liege, Belgium
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Radiology
Diplomate European College of Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging

Sam Jennings, DVM, ACVP
Assistant Professor
DVM – Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine
MSpVM – North Carolina State University
American College of Veterinary Pathologists (Anatomic Pathology)

Arlen Rogers, DVM, Ph D, ACVP

John Berg, DVM, ACVS
Soft Tissue Surgery
MS – Colorado State University
DVM – Colorado State University
Board certification: ACVS

Ray Kudej, DVM, ACVS
Associate Professor
Soft Tissue Surgery
Post-Doctorate – Harvard Medical School
PhD – Iowa State University
DVM – Iowa State University
Board certification: ACVS

Lisa Freeman
PhD – Tufts University School of Nutrition
DVM with thesis – Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine
BS – Tufts University
Board Certification:  American College of Veterinary Nutrition

Calin Heinze
Assistant Professor, Nutrition
MS – Nutritional Biology – University of California, Davis
VMD – University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine
Board Certification: American College of Veterinary Nutrition (ACVN)

Lluis Ferrer, DVM, DACVD, PhD
Professor, Dermatology
DVM – Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain, 1981
PhD – Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain, 1985
Board certification – ECVD, 1995

John Rush
Interventional Radiology (IH Shunts)
DVM – Ohio State University
MS – Ohio State University
Board Certification Cardiology (ACVIM) and (ACVECC)

Current Concepts

Minimally Invasive Surgery: Surgery with Less Pain

Robert J. McCarthy, DVM, MS, DACVS    

“I learned a long time ago that minor surgery is when they do the operation on someone else, not you”              

-Bill Walton of the Boston Celtics              

Philippe Bozzini, father of minimally invasive surgery

Philippe Bozzini, father of minimally invasive surgery, described in the early 1800s an examination with a "lichtleiter." (Image courtesy

History and Rationale

 Although still in its infancy in veterinary medicine, minimally invasive surgery (MIS) has been performed in humans since the early 1800’s, when Bozzini described examination of the bladder and rectum with an instrument referred to as a “lichtleiter”. . While initially used sparingly, and only as a diagnostic tool, operative MIS gained explosive popularity after description of the first laparoscopic cholecystectomy in 1985. It is estimated that a staggering 600,000 laparoscopic cholecystectomies are now performed annually in the United States alone! MIS has now been investigated as an option to replace almost every imaginable open surgical procedure in humans.              

Colleagues have argued to me that if you add up the length of all the stab wounds for a MIS procedure, they could do the same intervention through an open approach. The lack of understanding is that it is not the total length of the incision that causes the trauma, but rather Continue reading