Australia, 28/01/21 | Story | Medical Systems Saving George – A Pyrenean Mountain Dog’s Battle with Cancer

A diagnosis of bone cancer for much loved George, a nine-year-old Pyrenean Mountain Dog, was devastating news but it meant that no effort would be spared in accessing the best medical care available.

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The veterinary care team from The University of Adelaide Veterinary Clinic surround the endoscopy system used to treat George

George’s owners contacted Dr Anne Peaston, a specialist veterinary oncologist at The University of Adelaide Veterinary Clinic. With the bone cancer in the humerus of his front leg, Dr Peaston knew that something had to be done.

“The prognosis if you do nothing is that those dogs would usually fracture their leg across the cancer site within a few weeks to a month or so and would need to be put to sleep,” she explained.

The gold standard treatment is to amputate the affected leg, followed by chemotherapy treatment. In George’s case, the amputation went well and while it took him a little while to learn, he is now walking confidently on three legs. A remarkable effort for a large dog like George, who weighs about 50kg.

Once the amputation was complete, George was able to commence his chemotherapy regime. Part way through the therapy, routine chest x-rays were conducted to check for metastases in the lungs, a common complication of osteosarcoma in dogs. If metastases develop during therapy, the treatment is stopped.

Many animals just like Pippa are regularly treated at The University of Adelaide Veterinary Clinic

“In George’s case, we didn’t see any evidence of the usual lung metastases which was good news, but we did find a mass in his right bronchus,” said Dr Peaston. “This was highly suspicious for an osteosarcoma metastasis but the location was extremely atypical. Given that there is very little reported about cancers arising in the bronchus of dogs, we were not sure whether it was indeed a metastasis, or possibly a completely independent cancer, or some other type of lesion.”

Dr Peaston and her team established that a standard approach to biopsy the mass by opening up the chest would be a risky procedure and require removal of the whole lung lobe. A much safer approach would be to use an endoscope to visualise and biopsy the lump but unfortunately the clinic’s endoscopes were not adequate for a job of this size.

The clinic’s radiographer had previously worked with Olympus’ South Australian team and when asked to help, Olympus arranged to provide the respiratory endoscope and consumable devices to assist with George’s endoscopy. The instrumentation needed to not only reach the mass but also bend in the right way in order to look into the bronchus.

Dr Anne Peaston, Specialist Veterinary Oncologist, The University of Adelaide

In the meantime, George received his third dose of chemotherapy and was then able to undergo the endoscopy. Surprisingly, the specialist surgeon conducting the endoscopy could not find anything unusual in George’s bronchus. Extending the endoscopic search to the other bronchi in case the wrong bronchus had been identified, also found completely normal bronchi.

“We couldn’t believe that the lump wasn’t visible, so we did another CT scan which confirmed that the mass had completely disappeared. The only explanation that we have is that maybe it was a metastasis from the cancer but the chemotherapy dose received prior to the endoscopy shrank it right away. Alternatively, it may perhaps have been a transient inflammatory lesion, or a haematoma but there was no evidence of this when the surgeon looked at the bronchus,” said Dr Peaston.

With the help of a specialised veterinary care team and the sourcing of a respiratory endoscope and consumable medical devices from Olympus, George was able to avoid risky thoracotomy surgery and has since made a full recovery. George completed his chemotherapy uneventfully and he is now enjoying time at home with lots of love and affection from his very happy owners.