A variety of conditions may affect dogs and cats around the head and neck. One of the more common conditions involves deep infection and inflammation of the ears requiring surgical treatment to remove the diseased tissue through procedures called ear canal ablations and bulla osteotomies. Your surgeon will select specific diagnostics tailored for your pet to determine the necessity and type of surgery required. Other head and neck procedures commonly performed by the General Surgery group include those treating conditions involving the thyroid gland, larynx, mandible or maxilla, nasal sinuses or, in collaboration with the Ophthalmology service, zygomatic and orbital surgery.
Conditions involving the airway of dogs and cats are commonplace, and affect certain breeds with more frequency. For example, dogs such as English bulldogs, pugs and Boston terriers are brachycephalic breeds that typically possess compressed nasal structures and redundant pharyngeal and laryngeal tissues, which can compromise normal respiration.
Fortunately, many of these conditions can be surgically addressed with favorable prognoses if treated early. Surgical widening of the nasal passages and removal of excessively long soft palate and redundant tissue around the larynx can all improve the quality of life and comfort of your pet. Similarly, some breeds are affected by collapse of the windpipe, or trachea. In partnership with our Internal Medicine service, we attempt to treat this condition minimally invasively by implanting intratracheal stents.
A variety of conditions can affect the lungs of small animal patients. The General Surgery service has the capacity to evaluate some of these conditions via thoracoscopy, or the use of small incisions and the insertion of a small camera, to minimize pain and discomfort. However, should major surgery be required involving the bronchi or lungs, our surgeons are experienced in all thoracic pulmonary procedures.
Occasionally a dog or cat may be born with a congenital heart defect. While not all of these conditions may be operable, there are some that can be corrected surgically. One such condition is called a patent ductus arteriosus, which is the persistence of a vessel that should have been closed at birth. If left untreated, the lifespan of the dog will be greatly reduced. However, with a relatively straightforward procedure in which the vessel is occluded, the affected dog can live a long, normal life. This condition is frequently corrected minimally invasively by the Cardiology service at the University of Missouri’s Veterinary Health Center. However, some pets still require conventional surgical care, which we can provide. Certain other congenital cardiac conditions can only be addressed surgically. We will work closely with the cardiologists to ascertain the specific kind of condition your pet has and approach the prospect of surgical intervention as a team.
Conditions involving the stomach, small bowel, large bowel, pancreas, gall bladder and liver requiring surgical intervention are unfortunately very common in the small animal patient. Dietary indiscretion can result in the ingestion of foreign objects that may become obstructed in the stomach or intestines, which many times must be retrieved surgically. A number of infectious and inflammatory conditions can also affect the gastrointestinal system and may benefit from surgical exploration with biopsies to obtain a diagnosis. Similar to the aforementioned cardiac conditions, sometimes congenital defects of the liver called portosystemic shunts will be present, which can be corrected surgically. As in people, occasionally the gall bladder can become obstructed or infected, which may require exploration and potentially removal. Whereas these procedures are being completed with increasing frequency using laparoscopy, most are still executed via conventional abdominal surgery, which our surgeons can review with you.
Most urogenital conditions can be cared for non-surgically, but occasionally a disorder will be encountered necessitating surgical intervention. The most common is the formation of bladder stones, which can result in infection and obstruction of the urinary system. These are most quickly and easily treated by way of surgical retrieval. Similarly, male cats can also have obstructions of the urinary system that may need to be surgically corrected by opening the urethra. Congenital deformation of the urinary system can also result in abnormal anatomic formation of the attachment of the ureters to the bladder leading to incontinence and increased risk of urinary infections. These deformities can be corrected with surgery. Other sources of incontinence can be related to loss of normal anatomic functions of the urethral sphincters and may benefit from surgical care. If your pet is exhibiting abnormal or difficult urination, our surgical team can provide a comprehensive examination to determine the cause and offer treatment solutions.
Dogs and cats are particularly prone to suffering skin wounds, which can arise easily from hard outdoor activity, tussling with other dogs or being traumatized. Many such injuries are relatively easy to treat, but depending on the anatomic location and extensiveness of the wound, treatment can be complicated and require surgical care. For some complex and highly infected wounds, the standard of care has become vacuum-assisted wound care in which a negative pressure dressing is applied to the wound bed prior to attempted closure. Further, secondary closure may require advanced reconstruction or grafting techniques, which we can offer.
Regardless of the condition, our general surgeons will establish a comprehensive treatment plan to address the needs of your pet. If you have more questions about any problem that you think may benefit from the care from one of our general surgeons, or if you would like us to examine your pet and discuss treatment options, please contact us.