Posted By: Martin - Vet

Bertie the springer spaniels multiple surgeries

If there is one thing worse than having to undergo surgery, it is having to undergo surgery twice in a short space of time! This is clearly a situation no-one wants to be in, however this is where Bertie the 9-year-old Springer Spaniel found himself.

Bertie was a new patient to the surgery. When we first assessed him Bertie was obviously a fit and athletic dog. His only problem at the time was that he had a lump in a delicate place – just below his anus. Although the lump wasn’t currently causing any issues his owner wanted it assessed to ensure he was doing the best for Bertie, and so some samples were taken and sent to the lab.

The lab test results from the samples suggested that the lump was most likely an adenoma – a benign type of tumour. The good news was that this meant it would be unlikely to spread. The bad news was that the lump would just continue to grow – it was already a large size and in an area where surgery could be difficult. But if we left it alone it may start to cause problems as it got bigger. It was a decision the owner wanted to consider carefully.

However, it wasn’t long before the unfortunate Bertie was back and, this time, not for his lump. Bertie had suddenly become lame, with no apparent injury, and a few days’ rest wasn’t making any difference. He was obviously sore and examination made us concerned he had pain in his knee. His owner was keen to ensure we had a definitive diagnosis and so after a little sedation and a few x-rays it was confirmed for sure that Bertie had ruptured his cruciate ligament – an injury causing instability in his knee.

Bertie’s worried owner now had two conditions to consider, and our advice was that surgery offered the best resolution for both his conditions. Unfortunately both surgical procedures would be complicated and lengthy and could not be carried out at the same time. Whilst this was hard news to hear, his owner wanted the best outcome for Bertie and surgery was scheduled for both conditions.

Bertie’s lump had been present for several weeks and despite getting a little bigger it had not caused him issues just yet. His leg, on the other hand, was causing a lot of discomfort. As such we elected to perform his cruciate ligament surgery first and then surgery to his bottom several weeks later, when we would also be able to x-ray his leg to monitor healing.

Despite his ailments Bertie was still as friendly as ever and still bounced into the practice on the morning of his first surgery. After all his routine checks were normal Bertie was anaesthetised and underwent orthopaedic surgery for his ruptured cruciate ligament. Bertie had an osteotomy surgery – a procedure in which the tibia, or shin bone, is cut and then repositioned using metal plates and screws, to alter the angle of the joint surface and re-stabilise the knee. This can be an unnerving surgery as we completely cut the tibia in two before repairing it once again. For Bertie this went well and before long he wasn’t only recovering well in his kennel but was also trying to stand on his leg! The following morning, after a night of intravenous painkillers and ice packing of the operated leg, Bertie walked out of the surgery – still in high spirits.

Bertie remained positive throughout his early recovery and visited the surgery several times for his wound care and general progress checks. His owner was delighted with his mobility but acutely aware that the mass on his bottom was getting bigger and so wanted to ensure we were all set to remove this in the coming weeks. We discussed the fact that extensive surgery in such a delicate area carried a high risk of complications, including the possibility of faecal incontinence, anal gland

damage and wound infections, but that the procedure was still the right thing to do to prevent future issues and so, once again, we scheduled a date.

Six weeks after his initial surgery Bertie, seemingly gladly, bounced into the practice once again. And once again his checks were normal and he underwent anaesthesia. This time the procedure was a soft tissue surgery. We needed to remove the anal mass without damaging the important sphincter muscles of his bottom, and also avoid damage to the anal glands. As such we inserted a specially designed catheter into his anal gland that was then inflated and clearly identified the boundaries of the gland so that we could avoid it. We then delicately started our surgery, resecting around the mass whist using electrocautery to seal any small bleeding vessels. Once removed we then sutured closed the wound in multiple layers before taking him through to X-ray to radiograph his leg and then back into recovery. At the end of the procedure the lump was being prepared for a biopsy and we reviewed the X-rays which showed his previous orthopaedic surgery was healing well.

Bertie was a model patient throughout and, despite all his visits, he was still a happy patient. He had recovered well from both procedures and we were fortunate that any complications experienced were very minor – all aided by the attentive care that he received at home. As well as Bertie’s lameness having almost completely resolved the final reward came when the biopsy of his mass confirmed that the growth was indeed of a benign nature, and had also been completely removed and shouldn’t recur. This was welcome news for everyone after the hard work they had put in. And for Bertie, he was just delighted that he could start his long walks again!

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