Sometimes when my computer fouls up or I lose cable TV reception, new technology seems like the waste of a lot of time and money. Paper and pencil took more effort, but the results were always trustworthy. I come from a background in which self reliance has always been important, so placing too much faith on electronics and new gadgets is difficult for me.
But then some of this advanced hardware enables me to help another pet in ways that never existed before, and I’m forced to just marvel at these huge leaps forward in patient care – thanks to some of this new technology.
Figure 1: Jackson is in obvious discomfort just before surgery.
Jackson Dennis, a happy Chocolate Labrador Retriever, came to our hospital in serious trouble. Suzen Dennis, owner of Tailwaggers Country Inn, recognized early that morning how Jackson was depressed, lethargic, his abdomen appeared distended, and he was in a lot of pain. This suggested a condition known as “bloat” to Suzen, who had seen it before and recognized its dire consequences.
In bloat, or gastric dilatation-volvulus, the stomach twists and fills with gas, expanding the abdominal cavity while toxins are absorbed through the stomach wall into the bloodstream. Death is certain without prompt medical attention.
Jackson’s abdomen was certainly expanded, he was anxious, and he could barely walk into the hospital that morning. A thorough examination and abdominal digital X-rays though demonstrated a spinal condition – spondylosis deformans – that certainly made walking very painful but also caused a loss of sensation to his urinary bladder and colon. He couldn’t sense that they were full, and it hurt too much to empty them, so both organs filled to very painful and dangerous levels.
Figure 2: this radiograph illustrates Jackson’s spinal condition and a very full, impacted colon. The expanded urinary bladder lies below the colon (not seen in this radiograph).
I attempted to put pressure on the bladder to void the urine, but poor Jackson yowled in pain. A urinary catheter would not pass either because the urethra and possibly the prostate were constricted by inflammation. We elected to surgically explore Jackson’s abdominal cavity to get his bladder emptied and search for any other abnormalities.
With pre-anesthetic blood work completed and the IV catheter in place, I made a long laser surgical incision; fast, easy, and without a drop of blood. Gaining entry into the abdomen, I emptied the urinary bladder with a large needle to relieve pressure, and was then able to pass a catheter to remove the rest of the urine.
I checked the colon for foreign objects (like T-shirts and underwear that Labs like to eat) and found nothing abnormal – just very hard stool. With the pain controlled by anesthesia, we emptied the colon for him by gently massaging the contents out.
All of his other organs appeared to be normal, so I sutured the incision closed. We then did a post-op treatment to the incision area with the laser therapy unit - another truly incredible piece of equipment - to diminish pain, swelling, and to promote rapid healing.
Attention then turned to the spinal spondylosis, the basis of all of his problems, so we did a laser therapy treatment over the spinal region to relieve his pain and control inflammation that interrupted nerve impulses from the bladder and colon. We repeated the spinal laser treatment the following morning, but it was already obvious that technology had worked its wonders.
Jackson’s long incision was perfect, without discoloration or bruising, and no swelling whatsoever. And most surprising of all was that the laser therapy had already done its job on his spinal problem: Jackson bounded out of his cage that next morning like a typical happy Labrador – his pain was gone and he ran around the hospital to greet everyone present.
Even better news! Jackson went outside and urinated freely, without discomfort and in total control of the act. The nerve input was restored and the bladder walls had not been permanently damaged!
We scheduled my big friend for four more therapy sessions, which will probably be followed monthly or even bi-monthly by single laser treatments to control his spinal disorder. Jackson’s going to be just fine, and it’s all thanks to this new technology that has absolutely revolutionized how we can practice medicine and help our patients.
If it can overcome even my resistance, it has to be good!
For more information about Jackson, the laser surgery, or laser therapy units, please feel free to contact us at Stonebridge Animal Hospital by calling 214-856-7005 or visiting us online at www.stonebridgeanimalhospital.com.