Ricochet’s risky tumour

In difficult and risky surgeries, multiple specialist departments at SASH have to work together to help save patients such as Ricochet the German Shepherd.

At seven years old, Ricochet started having seizures, and also developed pain around her head. Her referring vet performed a CT & MRI scan and diagnosed her with a type of brain tumour called a meningioma. Sitting at the right front section of Ricochet’s brain, these tumours are usually benign and form from the protective layers covering the brain.

At this point, Ricochet was referred to see Dr. Georgina Child in our Neurology Department, one of the only registered specialist neurologists in Australia.

The recommended treatment for Ricochet was to have the tumour surgically removed. However this option presented some major risks. Any surgery or procedure requiring anaesthesia carries a risk, but for brain surgery that risk is particularly high. This is because the patient must be monitored very closely and the anaesthesia used must be chosen very carefully.

Luckily for Ricochet we were able to have our Anaesthesia team (Dr. Colin Dunlop & Brooke Koster) monitor her during this surgery.

There were a number of specific factors that Colin and Brooke needed to monitor on Ricochet throughout the surgery, from her carbon dioxide levels and the oxygen levels in the blood, to the electrical activity of her heart. Ricochet’s temperature also had to be watched (to ensure she didn’t overheat or get too cold) and she had to be given the right amount of pain relief so she was comfortable during and after the surgery.

Thanks to the expertise of the team at SASH, the surgery for Ricochet was successful and the tumour was removed entirely.

However, the next step in such a risky surgery was how Ricochet would recover. She remained intubated (where a tube is fed into the airway to assist with breathing) for a couple of hours after surgery and once the tube was removed, the vets and nurses at SASH kept a very close eye on her progress.

The main concerns after anaesthesia were brain swelling, seizures and behavioural changes.

Ricochet could have needed up to one week in the VetICU ward, however she not only recovered well from her surgery and anaesthesia, but continued to improve over the next two days. So much so, that Ricochet was able to go back home with her family just in time for the weekend.

We are very lucky here at SASH to have such skilled staff as Georgina, Colin and Brooke to ensure any pets who visit us have the best possible chance at recovery and returning to their healthy, happy selves.