Our Referral Services

Our Core Specialist Small Animal Surgical Referral Service is led by Ian Nicholson, he has been joined by a visiting Internal Medicine Specialist, and a visiting Ophthalmological Specialist.  With a new CT scanner (allowing a much broader and more holistic service to be offered) we can now diagnose and treat the vast majority of canine and feline injuries and illnesses on the Island at the highest level, and offer a local, personal, service. 

Being close to home matters – it means less time travelling to and from the vets, less stress due to shorter hospitalisation times, visiting pets in hospital is straightforward, and (where needed in the event of ongoing illness or complications) readmission to hospital is quicker.


Three-dimensional imaging, like CT scanning, is incredible technology, and allows for quick and accurate diagnosis – and surgical planning. Island Referrals is extremely proud to have installed an on-site CT scanner, including immediate on-site image reconstruction and interpretation, plus back-up from a team of specialist Diagnostic Imagers where needed. As well as standard scans, we can undertake CT-guided biopsy, specialist contrast studies, and pre- and post-op CT for complex cases. Ian has worked intimately with CT for fourteen years now, and makes pragmatic use of them, including now having a better ability to combine diagnostics and therapeutics into one visit, reducing both potential stress and cost. 


Island Referrals is fully equipped for small animal orthopaedic work, accepting all types of cases. Lameness work-ups, joint surgery for all joints (including TPLO for cruciate ligament injury), arthroscopy, angular/short limb deformity, fractures (limb, cranio-facial/mandibular, spinal), luxations, polytrauma cases, joint replacement work-ups, chronic pain cases – anything lameness or gait-related can be assessed fully and treated as needed, including spinal and neurological cases (see below).


Full work-up, with Specialist Internal Medical and Oncological support, for confirmed and suspected cancer cases, including typing (minimally-invasive, ultrasound- or CT-guided biopsy), grading, staging, surgical planning.  Surgery, chemotherapy and possible tertiary referral for radiotherapy can be discussed for all tumour types and locations. We work as a team, with the aim of making sure all decisions are fully informed, so that pet owners can have a real choice and be supported in doing what they feel is best for them and their pet – at what can be a very difficult time.


The vast majority of soft tissue procedures are able to be undertaken. These include TECA/LBO, perineal rupture, anal sacculectomy, BOAS, laryngeal tieback, polytrauma cases, and medical and oncological [cancer] cases requiring diagnosis and intervention (thoracic, abdominal, or other). Ian works in tandem with Kit Sturgess, an RCVS-recognised Specialist in Internal Medicine who visits Island Referrals regularly to help with cases with complex needs (see below).


We are delighted to have RCVS-recognised Specialist in Veterinary Internal Medicine (and Advanced Practitioner in Cardiology) Kit Sturgess accepting referrals at Island Referrals. Kit is a highly experienced and broadly skilled specialist and he and Ian have worked together for a number of years and dovetail extremely well. This strong team, with support from Specialist Veterinary Anaesthetists where needed, is key to Island Referrals’ ability to treat sicker patients with more complex needs.


We now host a monthly Specialist Eye Clinic, run by RCVS-recognised Specialist Rob Lowe – founder of Optivet, Havant, the largest veterinary ophthalmological hospital in Europe. This means that the Island’s pets can access the highest level of ocular care on-island for the first time. Initial consultation is on-island, and some specialist eye surgery is performed here too. However the unique requirements of procedures inside the eye mean some of these operations would be performed at Optivet – with all follow-ups at Island VetCare.


Ian has broad experience with elective and emergency neurological cases, particularly spinal patients and has specialist neurological back-up where needed. With the arrival of on-site CT scanner, Island Referrals can now work-up and treat a variety of spinal and neurological conditions, including acute spinal patients and even acute brain disease.