Easter holidays arrived early this year and saw March come to a close with the busiest ever month for A30Referrals…since January. We’ve seen 56 cases, of which 43 were orthopaedic, 8 soft tissue and 5 spinal surgeries – three of which arrived in one evening.

As always, our thanks go to those colleagues in practices throughout Cornwall who entrust us with the care of their patients, and to all those owners who make the journey to come and visit us here at the hospital with their much-loved pets.

In a few cases this month, vets and nurses have brought their own pets for surgery at A30 too which is very much appreciated and respected.

As always, Cranial Cruciate Ligament degeneration was the most frequent condition treated, with 13 patients having either a Slocum (rotational) or Wedge TPLO. Amongst these was little Ralph, a Chihuahua belonging to Steph, one of our nurses. This tiny chap had a Wedge TPLO, fixated with a 2.4mm bone plate, and has made an excellent recovery.

x-ray of the leg of Ralph the chihuahua showing a 2.4mm Wedge TPLO with plates visible done at A30 Referrals

Other orthopaedic conditions seen included four patella luxations, with another Chihuahua called Peanut needing bilateral knee surgery to correct his errant kneecaps. Our images this month also show a selection of radial fractures illustrating a range of repair techniques- 2.0mm mini-plates for a bilaterally affected Toy Poodle pup; and two forms of fixation for radial fractures of Collie-mixed patients, an internal T-Plate for closed fractures and an External Skeletal fixator for open fractures.

One case; a cat called Falkor with an injury stemming from a bite wound; had developed a deep infection with a nasty bacteria and we opted for amputation to prevent spread up into his body and get him comfortable. Pets with an amputation cope wonderfully well, and in certain cases it is the most appropriate way to get them safe and happy swiftly.

I often share a story of performing an amputation for my mother-in-law whose Bernese Mountain Dog, Heidi, had fractured her shoulder through a bone tumour. Heidi not only returned to a full and vigorous life, she could keep up with our twisting and turning Jack Russell, Billy , during ‘circuits and bumps’ in the garden afterwards.

Xray of dog's radius at A30 Referrals showing A 3.5mm 'T' plate to repair a closed radial fracture

Premature closure of the distal ulna growth plate, leading to deviation though the wrist below (carpal valgus) or disruption of the elbow joint above (elbow incongruity) is a reasonably frequent presentation that we see; in mild cases it is associated with the ‘Queen Anne Table Leg’ front leg conformation that is common in Jack Russells and Dachshunds particularly.

This month we’ve see four cases showing wrist deviation, one bilateral in a very young pup; all have responded well to surgical removal of a small section of the lower ulna. If elbow disruption is beginning then a higher ulna section is required.

We saw a rare case of Long Digital Extensor Tendon avulsion. Charlie, a Red Setter who took a cliff tumble, was markedly lame subsequently. There is a specific test, wherein with the stifle flexed and hock extended the toes are able to be fully flexed without tension; and radiographs illustrated an avlusion of a small bone fragment from the side of the knee – this was reaffixed with a spiked washer and 2.4mm titanium screw.

Xray of dog's fractured radius at A30 Referrals showing an external fixator frame to repair an open radial fracture

Easter Sunday morning saw the arrival of Springer Spaniel Lola with a fractured elbow, repaired with some more of our orthopaedic implant range – a 4.5mm intercondylar screw and a 2.7mm locking plate. We keep a very extensive range of implants in stock at the hospital to avoid any delays in the repair of even complex and unusual fractures.

X-ray of red setter dog Lola showing a fractured elbow, which was repaired with screws and a locking plate at A30 referrals
Staffy dog Tsar at Penmellyn Vets being assisted to walk with purple sling under his belly

All pets are special, but sometimes one individual makes an extra-special impact and Tsar, an 8 year old Staffy, has been one of those. Tsar is a terrific dog, utterly dedicated to his owner who is a wheelchair user, and an extremely friendly and joyful chap with everyone he meets.

Some years ago he had a minor spinal trauma leading to some cord bruising which was diagnosed and treated medically, and he recuperated fully. More recently he was back with a chronic walking problem, with weakness and scuffing of his back feet.

A scan showed the trace evidence of his old injury, but also a more recent pressure from a bulging disc further forward. We discussed surgical procedures and admitted him; his operation was a long one, requiring removal of a wall of bone from beside his spinal cord, but it went very well and he was rapidly back on his feet.

His recheck, seeing him back up and motoring was a particularly tears in eyes moment throughout the team here.

X-ray of Mr Crumb the whippet's spine showing et tube and two areas of pressure on his spinal cord

On the clinical report, we had our Spinal Wednesday – Mr Crumb the Whippet, Jack the Jack Russell and Thomas the Dachshund. They all had surgery to treat disc prolapses causing varying degrees of paralysis – Mr Crumb burst one neck disc and bulged another, Jack bulged a disc in his mid-back and Thomas burst one in a similar place. All patients are progressing well.

X-ray of Charlie, a Red Setter stifle showing an avulsion of his Long Digital Extensor tendon
X-ray of Charlie, a Red Setter stifle showing an avulsion of his Long Digital Extensor tendon
Colin Whiting at Penmellyn vets laughing and wearing surgical hat with bow tied on head by nurses

We’ve been busy at home again this month, laying a concrete base for a log cabin to come – though the heavy rain meant the concrete lorry sadly couldn’t get into our field, it at least stopped it setting whilst we wheelbarrowed all six tons of it uphill to the destination!

Colin Whiting with wheelbarrow and with his son laying cement
Colin Whiting laying cement

Last month’s dovecote is attracting at least glances from afar from the local pigeon population, but the chickens visit daily to peck the uneaten corn that the wind blows off its perches.

Dovecote made by Colin Whiting and chickens

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A30 Referrals PENMELLYN VET GROUP LTD Station Road St. Columb Major, Cornwall TR9 6BX
Tel: 01637 880307 Fax: 01637 880825 E-mail: admin@penmellyn.co.uk