Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Patient of the Week: Miracle Maggie

Every month Maggie is with us, is a gift. A Yorkshire Terrier, born the runt of her litter in April 2009, Maggie has faced numerous medical challenges since birth. The first clue for us, was her inability to rid herself of internal parasites, at a very young age, after repetitive treatments. 

At seven months, a sudden onset of respiratory trauma sent Maggie to the emergency room at VCA Veterinary Referral Associates. Barely alive on arrival, Maggie was treated for lungworms and parasitic pneumonia and given multiple antibiotics and anti-parasitic medications. VCA veterinarians explained, at this time, her blood work showed a low BUN and low cholesterol levels, indicators of a portosystemic liver shunt.

When spayed in 2009, a liver biopsy was performed, confirming hepatic microvascular dysplasia. This liver abnormality is usually treated by diet modifications, so Maggie began a low protein prescription formula. High bile acids followed, and ursodiol was added to help with bile production.

Just when her short life seemed manageable, Maggie displayed neurological symptoms of ataxia and slowly lost her ability to walk. Maggie was, again, near death. Dr. Steven Steinberg, the neurologist/neurosurgeon at VCA, diagnosed her with a brain stem abscess. Strong antibiotics, able to cross the blood brain barrier, were prescribed, and Maggie recovered from this debilitating illness long enough to give us hope.

In December 2012, Maggie began showing new neurologic symptoms; she displayed a head tilt and began circling. She also lost her ability to bark. Dr. Steinberg at VCA VRA saw Maggie once more and diagnosed Meningoencephalitis through spinal fluid evaluation and MRI. An antibiotic was administered, along with prednisolone to help manage her brain inflammation. Dr. Steinberg also recommended a nine-month course of chemotherapy, using lomustine.

It has been four months since Maggie’s chemotherapy treatments concluded. Her white blood cell count is slowly improving, and her quality of life remains pretty good. She runs, barks, plays and loves being with her family. Her appetite is very good, and her neurological symptoms are minimal. Maggie is given low dose prednisolone every third day to keep inflammation in-check. We’re living with a “new normal” for Maggie and enjoying one month at a time, thanks to the expertise, treatment, and compassion of Dr. Steve Steinberg and Yona Severe at VCA-Veterinary Referral Associates.

-By Nancy Weiman


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