Sunday was Tripawds Awareness Day on the cleverly chosen date of 3/3. To celebrate tripawds, I thought I would tell you about a triplet of tripawd patients.
Every veterinarian has dog and cat patients with only three legs, or as one website calls them, tripawds. Because I am a cancer specialist, my tripawd patients all have a malignant tumor as the cause of their amputation, but other veterinarians perform amputations to treat a variety of diseases and injuries. One common cause of amputation in cats is a serious fracture that cannot be repaired. Infections of the bone cannot always be cured by antibiotic therapy and if the infection starts to cause pain, an amputation controls both pain and infection. When hit by a car, dogs and cats may suffer nerve damage to their front leg, sometimes resulting in paralysis. The paralyzed limb may drag on the ground and develop sores. Amputation resolves this problem once veterinarians have determined there is no hope of the limb regaining function.
Lester, a refined gentleman of a dog, came to The Animal Medical Center nearly two years ago. He has the black tongue of a Chow Chow, the coat of a Samoyed and sadly, osteosarcoma. Osteosarcoma is the most common bone tumor in dogs and in my practice is the most common cause of amputation. Because amputation treats the tumor in the bone but does not treat the little tumors lurking elsewhere, like the lungs, Lester received chemotherapy intravenously for a few months after surgery. Then Lester exceeded our expectations and was tumor-free for over one year. Late last summer, chest x-rays picked up new tumors in his lungs. Thanks to an oral chemotherapy drug, tripawd Lester continues to exceed our expectations with a great quality of life – walking on the beach with his naughty brother Nicholi.
Long live Ajax
Ajax, a 10 year old tripawd Labrador, appeared in an earlier blog when he had two simultaneous tumors, a thymoma near his heart and a soft tissue sarcoma on his hind leg. The sarcoma attached itself to his leg bone and could not be removed without losing the functionality of his leg. Ajax’s soft tissue sarcomas behaved very differently than Lester’s osteosarcoma. Amputation was the only treatment required to cure him of this tumor and he has survived nearly three years since the surgery.
Jill’s family desperately tried to save her leg. They let several pathologists study her toe biopsy and we were hopeful surgical removal of the toe would be all the treatment she needed. Several months after the toe amputation, Jill’s family found a hard mass on the back of her leg, and a biopsy indicated the giant cell osteosarcoma of the toe had recurred. Since the possibility of amputation was discussed during the evaluation of the toe biopsy, Jill’s family was not surprised at the recommendation for an amputation once the tumor had returned. We also recommended chemotherapy, the same drugs we used successfully in Lester. To hear more about Jill and her adventures, read her blog on Tripawds.com.
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