Advanced MRI technology aids in complicated veterinary surgery

The 8-year-old dog is making a successful recovery.

Doctors from MU’s College of Veterinary Medicine used advanced MRI equipment to help save the life of an 8-year-old dog.

Callie, an English Setter, underwent a complicated procedure to remove a tumor on her brain, according to a news release. Using the Brainsight MR frameless neuro-navigation device, an MRI of Callie’s brain was taken to create a 3D model to aid the doctors during surgery.

The technology allowed greater accuracy to be used in the removal of Callie’s tumor. According to the news release, only a few other veterinary schools in the nation have access to this kind of device.

“It enables you to find areas in the brain with extreme accuracy,” said Fred Wininger, assistant professor of Veterinary Neurology and Neurosurgery. “With Callie, she had a very aggressive tumor, and this allowed us to be accurate.”

Wininger was one of three doctors performing the surgery.

“It’s based off of technology used in human surgery, so we can use it on dogs and cats of every size,” he said. “We do a very high resolution 3-D MRI. The computer registers external features and gives us internal information.”

Callie’s owner Dianne Fields said she could tell something was wrong with Callie before the tumor was found.

“I knew there was something wrong with her because she was sort of withdrawn,” she said. “She started shaking, was withdrawn and wouldn’t bark anymore. She was pacing the floor and wouldn’t lie down.”

Before examining Callie’s brain, doctors weren’t entirely sure what was wrong with her.

“I had gotten her an appointment and it appeared to be anxiety,” Fields said. “But it wasn’t anxiety — it was a tumor.”

The area of Callie’s brain affected by the tumor needed to be treated quickly. The affected area could lead to behavioral changes and seizures, Wininger said.

On Feb. 28, Callie endured nearly four hours of surgery, Fields said. The high-tech equipment was important during the surgery, which involved the careful removal of the tumor.

“They told me they took out everything they could (of the tumor) and part of the frontal lobe,” she said.

Fields said she was concerned her dog wouldn’t be the same, but her fears were quickly dispelled.

“When they brought her out, she came right up to me and to my pocket where I keep the treats,” she said. “Her personality came back. She barks, she wags her tail and does everything a normal dog does.”

Callie received radiation therapy beginning in March. The therapy finished mid-April, Fields said.

“The tumor she has is an aggressive one,” Wininger said. “So in addition to surgery, she is having radiation therapy. We are predicting a good outcome.”

After the surgery and radiation therapy, Callie is doing much better, Fields said.

“Now we’re walking two and a half miles a day, (and) she’s eating and gaining her weight back,” she said. “She is a therapy dog and (won’t) go back to work yet until she fully heals from radiation. She’s enjoying life. She’s amazing.”

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