Why We Do What We Do
Bruna Beats the Odds Against Intervertebral Disc Disease
Condition: Intervertebral Disc Disease
In less than 24 hours, Bruna, a sweet, 6-year-old female Dachshund, lost her ability to walk. Her distraught owner sought out the family veterinarian to determine what was wrong. He wisely recognized Bruna had likely ruptured an intervertebral disc in her spine, and referred the case to Pet Specialists of Monterey for evaluation and treatment.
Dr. Greg Marsolais discussed further diagnostics and risks and complications of surgery with Bruna’s owners. He performed a myelogram (spinal cord dye study) and confirmed the rupture. Dr. Marsolais and his team performed surgery and removed the large ruptured disc.
The wonderful news: Bruna began a physical therapy program and has fully recovered. This outcome is a joy for everyone, but especially for Bruna and her family. For more information on intervertebral disc rupture, please read Dr. Marsolais’ article: Intervertebral Disc Disease.
Cappy’s Second Chance
Condition: Fractured Spine
Miracles can happen! And Cappy’s story is a real miracle.
Monterey County Animal Services found Cappy, a male Aussie-Sheppard pup, lying in a ditch – severely-injured and helpless – after having been hit by a car. Cappy had a badly-fractured spine and a serious injury to his right eye.
Dr. Greg Marsolais offered to perform the delicate surgery to stabilize Cappy’s spine – the very first in Pet Specialist’s new, state-of-the-art hospital. Dr. Marsolais later commented, “What a way to begin!” In just three days, Cappy was bearing weight on all four legs and taking coordinated steps. Cappy is now recovered and, this past summer, participated in the “Run for Love” race in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Cappy remains Pet Specialist’s special opening case and is an inspiration to us all.
Cosmo’s New Furry Leg
Condition: Extensive Hind-leg Injury
Animal Friends Rescue Project found this adorable eight-week-old feral black kitten suffering from an extensive injury to his hind leg. Cosmo’s leg was badly infected and missing all its skin. Rather than amputate the leg, Dr. Marsolais performed a skin graft, taking skin from Cosmo’s side and carefully attaching it to his leg. Cosmo is now in a loving home, and is dashing about on his perfectly functional – albeit unusually furry – hind leg.
Condition: Broken Pelvis, Dislocated Hip, and Badly Broken Ankle
This gentle bearded Collie-mix wound up at the Hollister Shelter after being hit by a car. His injuries were so extensive that he was unable to stand or walk on his own.
The Shelter transferred McTavish to the care of Pet Specialists, where he was diagnosed with a broken pelvis, dislocated hip and badly broken ankle. Given the extent of his injuries, Dr. Marsolais performed a femoral head and neck ostectomy on the hip and then repaired the ankle with a pantarsal arthrodesis using an external skeletal fixator (metal framed apparatus). McTavish wore this apparatus for four months until the bones healed. He is now fully-recovered and walking on his own in a loving home.
Coco Runs Again
Condition: Internal Injuries and Broken Pelvis
Coco is a terrier mix who was also hit by a car while playing with his companion dog. Unfortunately, the other dog did not survive, and Coco had severe internal injuries. After an initial attempt to repair the ruptured body wall failed, the owners brought Coco to Pet Specialists.
Upon examination, Dr. Marsolais discovered that as a result of the accident, Coco had also suffered a broken pelvis. After a successful revision surgery, combined with repair of the pelvis, Coco is now fully recovered and running around as a happy dog, full of life.
Bogie Walks Again
Condition: Cervical Intervertebral Disc Rupture
Bogie, an older beagle, went outside to play with a dog friend. When he returned, he was holding up his right front paw. While that may happen from time to time, Bogie was really hurt. His owner awoke the following morning to discover Bogie was paralyzed in all four limbs, and rushed him to Pet Specialists.
Dr. Marsolais diagnosed a cervical intervertebral disc rupture, which was confirmed by MRI. Surgery was successfully performed and the ruptured disc was removed by a difficult ventral slot procedure. Over the next week, with rehabilitation and supportive care, Bogie made a dramatic recovery and took his first steps. He continues to recover and gain strength. He is expected to make a full recovery after a few months of rehabilitation.
Lucy’s purring like a kitten
Breed: Norwegian forest cat
Condition: Intestinal obstruction
Age: 7 years
Lucy had an acute onset of vomiting and unwillingness to eat at home. She became increasingly distressed and seemed painful while vomiting so her owner brought her to Pet Specialists for evaluation.
Abdominal radiographs (x-rays) and an ultrasound showed that Lucy had an obstruction in her intestines. Lucy was taken to emergency surgery that evening by Dr. Sullenberger to remove the obstruction. During surgery we found that the obstruction was an intussusception, a condition where the intestine telescopes in on itself. The part of Lucy’s intestines that was involved in the intussusception was badly damaged and had to be removed. About five inches of Lucy’s intestines were removed and the healthy ends were closed back together in a procedure called a resection and anastomosis. Lucy was kept in the hospital for close monitoring for a few days following surgery to make sure she didn’t develop an infection. Lucy was released from the hospital and is doing well at home. Her owner is very happy to see her normal energetic self returning.
Storm is back on patrol
Breed: Belgian malinois
Condition: Abdominal abscess
Age: 2 years
Storm is a California Department of Corrections dog who presented to Pet Specialists on the emergency service for being slightly “off.” Radiographs and an ultrasound of her abdomen revealed a large, round, mass with a central foreign material that did not appear to be associated with any of Storm’s organs.
After initial supportive care Storm went to surgery with Dr. Marsolais for a procedure called an exploratory laparotomy. During surgery the mass was located and found to be filled with pus, consistent with an intra-abdominal abscess. The abscess was connected to the intestines by a long migrating tract. The most likely cause in Storm’s disease was a sharp object that she ate and perforated out of her intestines. The abscess and tract were removed and Storm’s abdomen was flushed to remove any other foreign material and bacteria that could cause another abscess. A course of pain medication and antibiotics ensured that Storm recovered quickly from surgery and was able to return to her handler within 2 days. Storm was seen 2 weeks later for suture removal looking good and ready to go back to work.
Tinker catches her breath
Condition: Tracheal collapse
Age: 9 years
Tinker, a nine-year-old pug, arrived at Pet Specialists on emergency for severe respiratory distress. X-rays showed a very narrow trachea, which, when collapsed, caused Tinker to cough, further irritating its inner lining. The situation was so severe that Tinker couldn’t breathe on her own. Due to the severity of her condition, Tinker was a candidate for tracheal stenting, which is the placement of a metal meshwork tube in the trachea to hold it open. Stents have long been used in human medicine for patients with heart disease.
Tinker was anesthetized and a measuring catheter was placed in her esophagus. X-rays taken of her chest with the catheter in place allowed the specialists to select the appropriate stent for Tinker. Serial x-rays confirmed correct positioning of the stent and a wide-open trachea for Tinker after the procedure! When Tinker awoke from general anesthesia, she was already breathing very well on her own. She was given cough suppressants for several days just to protect the stent while she recovered. Over time, Tinker’s normal tracheal lining will grow over the stent. Tinker has been recovering nicely at home and will be breathing easily during the holidays!
Daisy’s Sense of Style
Breed: Boston terrier/Chihuahua mix
Condition: Dehisced thoracic limb amputation site
Age: 4 years
Daisy presented for management of an open wound when she was attacked by another dog. Her daytime veterinarian amputated her front leg, which was damaged beyond repair, but she had such a deep infection that the site would not remain closed. Given the intense care required before and during surgery, she was referred to Pet Specialists.
Daisy’s open wound required bandage changes twice a day for several days before surgical closure could even be attempted. With a culture to guide our antibiotic therapy, good pain management and wound care, the tissue soon became healthy enough for surgery.
Daisy was put under anesthesia and her skin was closed directly over the healthy tissue of her previously open wound. The surgery went smoothly and Daisy recovered very well. Daisy now visits wearing an assortment of t-shirts that she initially wore to prevent trauma to the site; now it’s just to show off her unique style.