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Hugo Gets Patched Up

Informative image: Golden retriever, happy, outsideOur latest courageous pet story is about this handsome fellow - Hugo. We are very grateful to Hugo's owners for not only allowing us to share his story with you, but for actually writing this lovely piece for us about Hugo's surgery. (We've added to it here and there with some technical details, but the rest is as written by Hugo's owners George and Bev.)

"Hugo is a Golden Retriever - he will be 9 on 19th November, and we've owned him since he was 2 years 3 months.

During the 6 years that we have owned Hugo, Woodcroft have assisted our needs greatly on 3 separate occasions.

The 3rd and latest was bestowed upon us as recent as July, where we sought a second opinion on an very ugly and enlarged growth, on his front right elbow so to speak."

A small growth had been present for some time and previous tests had suggested it was just a benign, fatty lump but over several months it grew and grew. When Hugo came back in July it was apparent that this was not just a fatty lump and the growth had transformed into a soft-tissue sarcoma. These tumours have a low rate of spread elsewhere, but a high rate of local recurrence if they are not removed with an adequate margin.

"Making an appointment with the Councillor Lane branch, we reported for a scan on Tuesday morning 1st July. Where after a lengthy conversation we left Hugo in the specialist hands of Emma and staff, we took the short journey home, where on arrival and even before we had chance to put the kettle on, Emma phoned seeking our approval to perform immediate surgery.

We naturally gave the go ahead, but the actual surgery for the removal of the growth was undertaken at Queens Road, performed by Graham and Emma."

Informative image: Golden retriever, elbow mass, surgery

Hugo's elbow prior to surgery

Informative image: Golden retriever, operation, scars, stitches

Following his skin graft

Whilst removal of the tumour with a margin was feasible, closure of the wound would require some planning. Spare skin is in short supply on dogs’ limbs, but there is a plentiful supply over the main trunk of the body. The wound closure plan for Hugo involved rotating a flap of skin from over his shoulder blade to cover the large wound over his elbow. The technical name for this procedure is a thoracodorsal axial pattern flap, because the flap of skin moved is supplied by its own blood vessels, increasing the probability of skin survival once it is transposed onto the recipient wound bed. The size of the skin flap allows tension-free wound closure despite the need for movement in the elbow. Fortunately for Hugo this procedure worked very well. The sarcoma was removed with an adequate margin and the wound reconstructed with skin from the shoulder. Hugo wore a special elbow support harness to protect the wound for several weeks after surgery.

"After an anxious phone call later that day we were advised of a successful but rather complex operation of which involved a major skin graft, and included dozens of staples and stitches. (Emma by the way would make an excellent seamstress!) Then after 2 nights of 5 Star accommodation, plus several phone calls, we collected our shaven and bandaged boy on Thursday 3rd July. He was 'fitted' with a superb garment known as Dog Leggs, a type of padded holster of which fits snuggly around the wound and offering excellent protection.

We have since been advised that the growth/cyst was sent away to a specialist laboratory for analysis - and we understand the powers that be had some difficulty in identifying its consistency - 'thanks' Hugo!"

After a couple of weeks recovery, hair started re-growing on the skin flap and all the folds and ripples associated with rotating the skin through 180 degrees started to remodel.

"Today he's absolutely fine, and has recovered from his ordeal, but owing to a 'reversed' skin graft; his fur is now growing in an opposite direction to which he resembles a patchwork quilt! A very small price to pay in view of what Hugo has been through, and for a 3rd time we are heavily indebted to the professionalism and expertise to all at Woodcroft.

We say a warm heartfelt thank you to all at Woodcroft, not only as per the above but for the normal routine of health checks, medication and general animal welfare.

Finally, we haste not to add too, for the excellent services of Lisa Brougham, (insurance claims handler) who fought our corner and with success against the awkward insurance people, Lisa once again we are indebted to you!"

Informative image: Golden retriever sitting, happy

Thank you George and Bev for writing such a lovely article about Hugo. The thick stripe of hair growing back over his elbow helps to remind us what a uniquely special patient he is!

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