Yes, I've been a bit absent from the blog recently, with only a few posts over the last few weeks. I've been busy with other things in life and haven't had the motivation to blog. However, let's make up for that with a couple of days of posting some interesting surgeries!
The first surgery is of a sweet female English bulldog who had a history of allergic skin problems. We're working through what she may be allergic to, but there was another situation to deal with. Bulldogs are one of the few breeds with naturally short tails that don't have to be "docked". The tail should be short and slightly curly but not have really deep folds. Unfortunately, deep depressions in the skin can happen as a consequence of how they grow and develop. When the skin folds are very deep they can trap moisture and skin oils, leading to persistent infections. This kind of infection can be very irritating to the pet causing significant itching and rubbing. Such was the case with this dog, who was daily scooting and rubbing her bottom. While this behavior can indicate full anal sacs, in her situation it was definitely the skin around the tail.
Here are some pre-operative pictures. You should be able to see how deep the folds are and how inverted the tail itself is. The third picture down shows me holding the folds back and pushing the tail out. This was one of the deepest tail folds I've seen and could only be fixed with surgery.
The goal of a surgery like this is to remove the tail and excess skin, then closing the incision to make the hind end smooth with no folds. In principle this is a simple surgery. However, the process can be difficult because on a short tail like this you have to remove the tail as close to the sacrum as possible, usually leaving only one tail vertebra in place. The challenge comes in that with the folds and fat around the hind end the surgeon is working deep in a hole with some limited visibility. I was able to work by feel when I couldn't see due to my own fingers being in the way. The vet also has to avoid damage to the rectum, colon, and surrounding muscles.
Here is the tail after it was removed.
And here is how she looked after the surgery was over.
When the hair regrows and the post-operative swelling goes away she'll have a smooth bottom and no further itching! Now we just have to control the rest of her skin problems.