Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Large and Rare Tumor Successfully Removed

Meet Louis, a three year old Cocker Spaniel cross, who over several months developed a large, firm mass attached to the left portion of his skull. The mass deviated his left eye and felt like a bony growth under his skin.

A CT scan demonstrated a rather uncommon tumor, whose name has changed multiple times over the years and is referred to today as a Multilobulated Osteochondroma (MLO). These tumors usually arise from the flat bones of the skull. Although they are typically evident on the outside of the skull, they tend to grow just as aggressively on the inside, often compressing the brain.

This tumor was exceedingly large and besides the extensive nature of the mass, my concern was that its removal might compromise the drainage of blood from the brain, thus leading to Louis’ death. We fortunately have very specialized equipment that not only allows us to look at a mass from all directions but has the ability to construct an accurate three dimensional model giving us specific landmarks for growth removal.

I have included 3-D reproductions of the mass from the front, the side and the top. I’ve included a cross sectional view that shows the mass compressing Louis’ brain. I colored the brain red-brown and the mass in green so that you can appreciate the amount of pressure exerted.

The surgery involved removing the entire boney mass and then additionally, to ensure wide margins, removing a significant portion of the left boney orbit that holds the left eye, the left frontal sinus and much of the right frontal sinus. Closing the surgical incision so the brain is protected and adding material to insure no access for infection from Louis’ nasal passages to his brain, are problems we have seen and solved many times in the past. Several techniques I learned, while rotating with human neurosurgeons, were helpful.

Included is a picture of Louis the day after surgery and one week after surgery.  We are going to remove his staples in about two weeks and may have to trim the extra skin which developed as the mass slowly stretched the area out of shape.

This tumor, even with the finest of excisions, does tend to grow back. However, this
may occur years from now. I have removed the same type of tumor from some dogs two, three and four times while they continued to live a normal, happy life. Louis looks pretty darn handsome already and is back to behaving like his usual sweet self.

When faced with extremely complicated cases, VCA VRA is known for its excellent results over the past three decades. Our experienced staff and cutting edge technology are available 24/7 should your furry friend be in crisis.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

King Wyatt!

Wyatt is an adorable patient at VCA Veterinary Referral Associates. He has had three brain surgeries with our neurologist, Dr. Steven Steinberg.

I call him ‘King Wyatt’ because he rules the Critical Care Unit whenever he is here. Because of time constraints, I made him an official crown with construction paper, tape, and a roll of cotton gauze. When it was complete, he paraded around the hospital wearing it and brightened everyone’s day. His Mom, who is a local veterinarian, loved it too and said that seeing the crowned Wyatt made her day as well!

Natalie Baker

CCU technician

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Meet Our New Oncologist

We are incredibly pleased to welcome oncologist Dr. Bobbi McQuown to our team!
Dr. Bobbi McQuown is originally from Ohio. She attended the University of Central Florida for her undergraduate degree. Following this, she spent five years in the Army. After completing her service obligation, she changed career paths to veterinary medicine.
Dr. McQuown graduated from North Carolina State University in 2011. She then completed a one year internship at VCA Veterinary Referral and Emergency Center/VCA Shoreline in Connecticut. Following her internship she completed a residency in small animal medical oncology at Tufts University. While at Tufts, she conducted research regarding lymphoma and IGF-1, anal sac adenocarcinoma, and heart base tumors.

Dr. McQuown relocated to the DC area to reunite with her husband, their Boxer dog, Alabama and cat, Nemo.

Learn more about VCA VRA's Oncology Department. We are very proud to offer oncology services to our patients. VCA VRA is one of the few veterinary oncology providers in the Montgomery County and DC area. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Two of the Cutest Blood Donors EVER!

Check out this picture of Missy and Kona enjoying a break from the summer heat by hiking on the C & O canal near Sharpsburg.  Missy and Kona belong to Barb, one of our receptionists! They also participate in our blood donor program here at VCA VRA!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Welcome Dr. Chris Gauthier!

We are thrilled to introduce our new surgeon Dr. Chris Gauthier! We are confident that he will be a wonderful addition to our hospital. Check out his bio below!

Christopher M. Gauthier, DVM, MS, MSM (Practice Limited to Surgery)
Small Animal Surgeon

Dr. Gauthier earned his veterinary degree from the University of Florida in 2010. Afterwards, he completed an internship at Tufts University, a surgical internship at the VCA Animal Specialty Center of South Carolina, and a small animal surgery residency at Colorado State University.  Dr. Gauthier’s special interests include: minimally invasive surgery, orthopedics, wound management, and surgical oncology.  Outside of the hospital, he enjoys spending time with his wife Zahra, dog Madeline, and cat Milton.  His hobbies include SCUBA diving, traveling, cooking, and beer brewing.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

VCA VRA Semi-Annual Hospital Meeting August 2015

We had one of our semi-annual hospital meetings this past Saturday. It was great to see so many of our awesome employees together at the same time! These meetings are a great way to keep our entire staff updated on any changes, celebrate successes for the hospital, and meet our new hires.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A Visit to Pea Patch Island

Recently, two of VRA’s technicians, Ana Bruder and Jackie Vidal, took a day trip to Pea Patch Island in Delaware. This island is home to Fort Delaware, a Union fortress built in 1859 and is only accessible by ferry. Fort Delaware protected the ports of Wilmington and Philadelphia and was also used to house Confederate prisoners of war.

In addition to the Fort, Pea Patch Island is a summer home to nine different species of herons, egrets, and ibis. The remote marshes provide an outstanding habitat for one of the largest wading bird nesting areas on the East Coast.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Meet the Intern: Dr. Leilani Marsh

Dr. Leilani Marsh grew up traveling around the US, but has always called her home Hawaii. She received her BS in Animal Science with a Minor in Chemistry at the University Of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign. After working as a veterinary technician for two years, she traveled to the beautiful island of St. Kitts to attend Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine. Leilani completed her clinical year of veterinary school at Auburn University, and graduated in January 2015 with a Doctor in Veterinary Medicine.

 Leilani lives with her fiancé, Francis. They have three dogs named Timber, Ruxby, and Yoshi, and one beta fish named Howie. They love going on hikes and traveling whenever they get a chance to see their families. 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Staff "Pup"date: Debbi and Dewey!

Check out this week’s “pup”date! Our Marketing Manager, Debbi, picked up her adorable Frenchton puppy, Dewey, last weekend. The first thing she did was have him checked out by the veterinarian. We are happy to say that he was given a clean bill of health. Check out Dewey’s first picture with his first veterinarian, Dr. Vega!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Welcome Intern Amelia Espina, DVM!

Today we welcome one of our 2015 interns, Amelia Espina, DVM.

Amelia is a Gaithersburg native. She attended Wootton High School (Go WHS Patriots!) in Rockville, MD. Amelia obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Biology at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, and a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech. In her free time, Amelia enjoys running, playing volleyball, and baking delicious treats. She lives in Gaithersburg with her husband and their four cats; Vera, Moby, Tater, and Snickers.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Birds of Pinckney Island

I recently visited Pinckney Island, South Carolina to photograph their nesting birds. Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and encompasses 4,053 acres with a 7.8 mile main hiking trail. It is located between the mainland and Hilton Head Island and was established to provide a nature and forest preserve for aesthetic and conservation purposes.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Picabu and the Pink Sweater

(Post author: Lauren Pagonis, Registered Veterinary Technician at VCA VRA) Picabu is a four-year-old Singapura cat who originally came to VCA on February 12, to have a congenital hiatal hernia repaired by Dr. Saylor. Her original surgery went well and Picabu seemed to be on the mend, so she went home on February 13. Later in the week, Picabu was not feeling well and was regurgitating. Her mom brought her back to our hospital on February 18 to see Dr. Anne Stoneham. Picabu was diagnosed with megaesophagus and esophagitis. Megaesophagus occurs when the esophageal muscles lose their tone and are no longer able to function properly to facilitate food moving into the stomach. Esophagitis is inflammation of the lining of the esophagus. We are not sure what caused Picabu to develop these conditions. We were unable to get Picabu’s esophagitis under control with medications alone, so a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tube was placed. A PEG tube is a special feeding tube that goes directly into the stomach from outside the body wall. In Picabu’s case, we could feed her by bypassing her inflamed esophagus.

Cats are notorious lickers and like to keep themselves clean. Picabu was no exception to the rule. We kept both an e-collar and “surgi sock” T-shirt on little Picabu. Due to her small size, the “T-shirt” did not fit very well and after the addition of the e-collar, it was difficult for Picabu to move around. Picabu needed something that would be a snug fit around her body and cover the feeding tube so she could not lick or chew on it; she needed her very own custom made crocheted sweater! 

I have been crocheting since I was ten years old. I have made sweaters in the past for my own pets, but Picabu’s sweater had to be constructed with a ‘special’ design. It had to fit tightly enough to keep the PEG tube against her body or the tube might pull on the sutures and pinch. It also had to be long enough to cover the whole PEG tube so Picabu could not lick or bite it. On Thursday February 26, my day off, I sat with Picabu in my lap for three hours and made her a perfectly fitting pink sweater.

I recently received an update from Picabu’s mom who stated that unless her sweater is being washed, Picabu wears it all the time. It has helped her maintain a nearly normal cat life; she doesn’t need the dreaded e-collar, or ill-fitting surgi sock T- shirt. I am in the process of making Picabu a second sweater. This time her gift will be crocheted in green to match her eyes. Picabu is such a special cat and it is wonderful for me to be able to use my talents to allow her the comfort she so deserves. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

July: National Lost Pet Prevention Month

July is National Lost Pet Prevention Month! It is incredibly important that your pet has a physical identification tag and a microchip! Having both of these items exponentially increases the chance of your pet being returned home to you! Check out this website for more helpful tips and information!