Spinal Surgery Performed at Warrnambool Veterinary

A couple of months ago, a lovely 6 year old miniature Dachshund named Lucy presented to our clinic. She had all the hallmark signs of disc herniation, which dachshunds are prone to. She was bright and alert, but had a painful back that progressed to paralysis. Lucy was unable to walk. She required surgery to remove the disc material that was damaging her spinal cord. As is the norm for this condition, the owner was offered referral to a Specialist veterinary surgeon in Melbourne to perform the delicate surgery. However, due to finances and travel, this was declined by the owner.

The small animal team at Warrnambool Veterinary were keen to help Lucy and her owner, so we offered to attempt the surgery here at our clinic in Warrnambool. We believe this is the first ever attempt at spinal surgery in a Warrnambool veterinary clinic. The owner was counselled that we had not performed this procedure before, but our vets did have advanced surgical training, and we were happy to give Lucy a chance of walking again.

Anthony Down and Mark Lewis would perform the operation.

As luck would have it, on the day of scheduled surgery, a former Warrnambool Veterinary employee Alen Lai came to vist, he is now completing a residency in small animal surgery at North Shore Animal Hospital in Sydney. Alen’s timing was impeccable, and he helped Anthony and Mark perform the Myelogram - injecting dye into the spinal column to identify which disc is affected and also in the Hemilamminectomy – the surgery where a portion of the bony column of the spine is removed with a high speed burr, giving access to the spinal cord, and the pieces of disc material causing disruption of the spinal cord are gently removed.

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After the surgery, Lucy remained in the hospital for a number of days, ensuring she was kept well rested and pain free. We are glad to report that Lucy’s operation was a success, and she is able to walk again. Thanks to Lucy for being such a great patient, and for Lucy’s owner for giving us a chance.

Note – we don’t pretend to be specialists here, specialist vets have done many years of advanced study and training and deserve their status. We do, however have a number of vets with training and interests in various areas, and being 3 hours from Melbourne and being considerably less expensive than a specialist, often gives us the opportunity to take on more advanced surgical and medical cases.