Elizabeth (Betsy) Swanson, DVM, MS, DACVS-SA, is an Associate Professor of Small Animal Surgery at the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Her clinical focus is soft tissue surgery with special interests in wound healing, minimally invasive surgery, endourology, wound infection, and chronic biofilm infections. She graduated from the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine With Honors in 2001. She completed a rotating internship at the Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover) in Germany (2002). She practiced for 5 years as an associate veterinarian at a small animal hospital in Arlington Heights, IL, after which she returned to specialty practice, completing a surgical internship at Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists in Houston (2008), and a surgery and critical care internship and a research fellowship at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine (2009, 2010). She attended the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, where she completed her Small Animal Surgery Residency and earned a Master of Science degree in Veterinary Science (2013). She has been on faculty at Mississippi State University since 2016. She is actively involved with the Society of Veterinary Soft Tissue Surgery and the Veterinary Endoscopy Society. Her research focus is on the effects of biofilms on chronic wound development, treatment of chronic biofilm infection, understanding the mechanisms of bacterial adhesion to tissues, and on developing a model of biofilm-infected diabetic pressure ulcers.
Tell us about your current role (ie. Practice type, position, professional and research focuses?)
I am a soft tissue surgeon at the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine. While I love all soft tissue surgery, my main clinical interests are in wound healing and wound infection, minimally invasive surgery, and endourology. My research focus is on chronic biofilm infections and MDR infections, looking at the role the patient’s physiologic state plays in promoting bacterial adhesion and biofilm development (wounds and UTI) and at clinical manifestations and treatment of biofilm and MDR infections in veterinary patients.
How do you incorporate MIS into your surgery clinic?
We routinely offer minimally invasive options for surgical procedures whenever it is appropriate for the case. I have been working on increasing the minimally invasive and endourology case load by actively promoting MIS and IR/IE offerings at Mississippi State and by offering advanced MIS procedures. In the past few years, we have seen more clients who are willing to pursue more advanced MIS procedures, allowing us to further put out the word that MIS is available in Mississippi! In addition to resident/intern training for MIS, I also introduce basic MIS skills to our senior students who take the Advanced Surgery Elective course. As part of the course, they are introduced to MIS and IR/IE in lectures, and then get to “play” with a scope and pelvi-trainer while performing peg-to-peg transfers and cutting out shapes. This particular lab session is a big hit among the students!
What excites you about MIS? (or tell us about a MIS success story)
I have had a strong interest in MIS since veterinary school. At that time, MIS was not as commonly seen in veterinary medicine, but I loved the concept of smaller incisions, less trauma and pain, and faster recovery times. I love working at the forefront of veterinary medicine. Technology continues to advance at an exponential rate, and that allows us to offer more and more MIS therapeutic options to our patients. Truly, we are only limited by our imaginations as we continually seek to expand our ability to offer cutting-edge medicine to veterinary patients.
Why do you love being a VES member?
My absolute favorite part of being a VES member is getting to know very talented, creative, and passionate veterinarians from around the world. Some of the most impactful moments have been those where people have presented on similar cases, challenges, or complications but with their own unique approach to solving the problem. I think we have all learned a lot and have improved our practice by the exchange of ideas and approaches that we would never have been aware of if VES didn’t bring us all together.
Where would you like to see veterinary MIS go in the future?
I would like to see continued advances in technology that improve image quality, instrument handling, and instrument/scope size to be able to treat patient of all sizes. Virtual reality as an option for viewing would be incredible. While still off in the distance, it would be exciting to be able to offer the precision of robotic surgery to veterinary patients on a more widespread basis.
I think we can continue to do more to increase public awareness of veterinary MIS, as owners seeking advanced care for their beloved pets is what spurs us on to developing new and better procedures and the equipment with which to perform them.
What do you like to do for fun outside of veterinary medicine?
I love to relax with a good book, travel, and garden. My big hobby, avocation really, is music. I have a degree in vocal performance and am active in performing whenever I can. I am a soloist and choir member at my church and with the Starkville/Mississippi State University Symphony Community Chorus. I also serve as the faculty advisor for the Epsilon Chi chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity at Mississippi State. I love attending concerts and smaller chamber performances and actively promote the arts within our community.