Monday, June 7, 2010

Brain Tumors in Dogs

After holding my breath and removing my first brain tumor from a dog in 1982, it is worth taking pause and reflecting on what we have learned during these 28 years and several hundred brain tumors later. One really big issue is that dogs aren't people. They probably don't have right brains and left brains as is common to man. This difference is critical as information in the dog is most likely stored in both hemispheres. The ability, well recognized in young children, for one area of the brain to take over for another may stay with dogs their entire lives as both brain hemispheres aren't restricted as they are in adults. In man, the need to fit language skills somewhere has often been incriminated for this hemispheric commitment. This and the fact that dogs are called upon to perform in a more limited way, for example no opposable thumbs, can't read a book; make our surgical decisions in dealing with the dog brain much more flexible. Because dogs can perform adequately, often with just minimal deficits, with large portions of their brains missing, the approach to a more radical surgery in the dog is often acceptable where this wouldn't be the case in man. The vast majority of dog brain tumors are primary and have not arisen elsewhere. The large majority of dog brain tumors do not metastasize elsewhere. Therefore with all of these attributes that distinguish our considerations in dealing with the dog brain, a wide surgical excision even in the most extensive hemispheric lesions has yielded in many cases very acceptable results. The MRI's attached and the short videos are all from the same 10 year old, castrated male boxer. The tumor seen on the attached MRI's was removed with wide margins. The tumor was an Oligodendroglioma, a highly malignant tumor in the dog but if removed totally, can yield some excellent results in selected cases.

Here is this dog 8 weeks after surgery.

Immediately post operatively these dogs are quite incapacitated but with time other areas of the brain take over and within weeks they frequently make a very acceptable recovery.

Eight months after surgery this same 10 year old Boxer is doing great. We will continue on his chemotherapy protocol for approximately 12 months. The video below is at his eight month checkup.


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