News | April 23, 2012

Advanced MRI Imaging Aids Surgical Planning in Dog Brain Tumor

Procedure saves therapy dog, beloved pet from cancerous brain tumor

April 23, 2012 — Using a special piece of MRI (molecular resonance imaging) equipment, doctors from the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine (MU) were able to remove a dangerous tumor from a beloved pet and therapy dog. Callie, an eight-year-old English Setter, began developing symptoms just a few days before being diagnosed with a tumor on her brain. Callie’s owner was referred to the neurological experts at MU, who then performed a complicated procedure to remove the tumor from Callie’s brain.

With the Brainsight MR frameless neuro-navigation device, MU surgeons were able to take an MRI of Callie’s brain and create a 3-D model; this allowed the MRI to guide the doctors to exactly where their instruments needed to go to remove as much of the tumor as possible. Fred Wininger, an assistant professor of neurology and neurosurgery at the MU College of Veterinary Medicine, says only three or four other veterinary schools in the country have access to this kind of equipment.

“This surgery would likely have been less successful if we didn’t have this equipment,” Wininger said. “We would have been unable to identify the tumor in its entirety because it was covered in normal brain tissue. This equipment not only assists in open surgeries like Callie’s, but allows us to pinpoint any region of the brain with extreme accuracy, allowing us to perform biopsies through a hole the size of a pencil.”

“The Brainsight MRI allows us to place markers on the brain during surgery, so wherever we point on the dog shows on our screen as far as where the tumor is in the skull,” said Amy Komitor, a doctor in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine who assisted with the surgery. “This makes it easier to identify a tumor and the edges so that we can try and get as much of the tumor out as possible when we go in surgically.”

Dianne Fields, Callie’s owner, believes the equipment expertise of the MU doctors saved her pet’s life. As a therapy dog, Callie has helped reduce the stress of dozens of children and the elderly. Fields says it was time to for Callie to get some help of her own.

Callie is currently undergoing radiation therapy to prevent the tumor from returning.

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