Spine, Head & Neck Surgery

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Herniated Disks in the spine and neck are common, especially in dogs like Dachshunds. We have operated almost every type of dog for a herniated disk. Cats can get them, although they are extremely rare.  If you have a small breed dog that cannot walk, it may be a surgical emergency and it is very important that you contact your veterinarian, emergency clinic, or a specialist in spine surgery immediately.

In our practice, we use myelography (a specialty radiographic procedure) done under general anesthesia. We have found that myelography is very accurate at localizing a herniated disk.  We are equipped to perform surgery on the spine, commonly referred to as a hamilaminectomy, in the thoracic/lumbar area or as a ventral slot in the neck area. Neck surgery for herniated disks is an area of interest for Dr. Hay, primarily as the technical challenge is high to be able to achieve the best outcome.

Head and Neck Surgery

Dogs and cats can develop a variety of disorders in their heads and necks. In Florida, chronic ear infections are common especially in Cocker Spaniels. The combination of their skin type, along with the humidity of Florida leads to chronic infections that end up with the ears closed off and the pet in pain. The pain from end stage ear disease is frequently not noticed by pet owners. In older Cockers, it is mistaken for the dog being lazy and wanting to sleep a lot. Having a pet owner call us to say that their dog is now playful and happy after healing from ear surgery is very rewarding for us! The procedure that is used to treat chronic ear infections in dogs is Total Ear Canal Ablation-Lateral Bulla osteotomy (TECA-LBO). TECA-LBO is very effective at resolving chronic ear infections in dogs if performed by an experienced surgeon so that complications are minimized.

Salivary Mucocele is a problem peculiar to dogs, and sometimes cats, where damage occurs to one of the ducts that drains saliva into the mouth. This leads to accumulation of saliva under the skin in the head and neck. Draining the saliva with a needle is often done to diagnose the problem, but the only cure is to remove the affected salivary gland(s). Dogs have over 8 salivary glands so dry mouth is not really a complication seen when two (and even four) glands are removed.

Laryngeal Paralysis

The larynx is the airway and there are two vocal cords controlled by muscles to modulate the size of the airway. If these muscles do not function properly, the airway will narrow and breathing difficulty will occur. This is the basis for what we term laryngeal paralysis. Laryngeal Paralysis occurs primarily in older Labrador and Golden Retrievers.  Most patients requiring surgery are older than 10 years and generally in the 12 year-range. Initial signs of laryngeal paralysis include heavy/raspy breathing which is often un-noticed by pet owners and can develop several years prior to overt respiratory difficulty. As signs progress, there is increased difficulty breathing, tendancy to overheat, coughing after drinking water, coughing at night, weakness in the limb and sometimes difficulty eating. No-one knows the precise cause of laryngeal paralysis in dogs, but it is generally agreed that the disease represents a general neuromuscular weakness in dogs and some will have significant respiratory difficulty.  It is common to check thyroid function in dogs suspected as having laryngeal paralysis. Laryngeal paralysis surgery, performed by an experienced surgeon will greatly alleviate respiratory difficulty in dogs and will have a high chance of being a life-saver.  It is essential that the pet is showing enough signs to undergo the surgery and that the pet is exhibiting the correct type of signs to be treated with surgery.   At Veterinary Surgical Specialists, Dr. Hay and Dr. Thomas share the same approach to laryngeal paralysis surgery in dogs.  There are several surgical procedures described in dogs for laryngeal paralysis, Dr. Hay and Dr. Thomas both prefer “arytenoid lateralization”, or tie-back. If your dog has been diagnosed with laryngeal paralysis, we encourage you to call the office to make an appointment with either Dr. Hay or Dr. Thomas.

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