Cutting-edge brain surgery featured in The Guardian

Cutting-edge brain surgery featured in The Guardian

Last updated 16 July 2015

Cutting-edge brain surgery carried out at RVC's Queen Mother Hospital for Animals (QMHA) has been featured in The Guardian newspaper and on its website.

Specialists at the RVC were the first in the UK and only the fourth veterinary team in the world to carry out hypophysectomy surgery on cat.

The first operation took place earlier in the year and a journalist from The Guardian came to the QMHA is September to witness neurosurgeon Patrick Kenny perform the procedure for the second time. The article appeared in the newspaper on November 6.

The operation, which involved removing the pituitary gland and a tumour via the roof of the mouth, successfully treated a cat called Harry suffering from acromegaly. The condition, which is usually caused by a tumour on the pituitary, is characterised by the overproduction of growth hormone. Non-functional pituitary tumours can also be treated with hypophysectomy surgery.

Prior to the development of hypophysectomy surgery, the only treatment options for dogs and cats with acromegaly were radiotherapy and managing the secondary condition of diabetes mellitus with medication. However, these options are unreliable because hormonal abnormalities persist after radiation therapy and managing diabetes with medication poses problems for owners and creates distress for cats and dogs.

Outlining the value of the technique, Stijn Niessen, an internal medicine specialist who leads the hypophysectomy team at the RVC, said: “This surgery offers owners a chance for the best possible result for their cat during one single procedure and the only chance of completely curing the disease. I would particularly advise this form of treatment for patients in the more advanced stages of the disease, particularly those starting to present with neurological symptoms alongside the diabetes as this would indicate a much larger growth on the pituitary gland. In these cases, the alternative of radiotherapy, would possibly take too long to take effect."

The surgery was aided by the Brainsight neuronavigation system. The RVC is the only veterinary centre in the UK to have the 3-dimension stereotactic brain biopsy device, which allows surgeons a high level of precision when planning and performing surgery.

After surgery Harry was supported by specialist vets and nurses from the QMHA's Emergency and Critical Care team. Harry's aftercare programme includes hormone replacement treatment to manage the hormone production lost through removal of the pituitary gland. He has recovered well from the operation.

To read the coverage in The Guardian click here: