26 April 2024

Our talented team recently carried out two emergency surgeries on the same day to save the life of a beloved pet dog.

We provided lifesaving treatment to two-year-old Sprocker, Ted, who had suffered a severe spinal infection caused by a grass seed he had inhaled.

Following the emergency operations, Ted spent two weeks receiving round-the-clock attention in our state-of-the-art intensive care unit, while also undergoing four months of expert post-operative veterinary physiotherapy and hydrotherapy to ensure he made a full and complete recovery. 

Cristina Toni, European Specialist in Veterinary Neurology here at Willows, said it was a challenging case.

She explained: “Ted was initially referred to our neurology team suffering from back pain and weakness in his back legs. 

“An MRI showed he had inhaled a foreign body, most likely a grass seed, which had migrated into his lumbar muscles. This had caused severe inflammation and infection in the spine and also created an abscess in the spinal cord. 

“Ted was seriously ill and was given a guarded-poor prognosis for recovery as he was so severely affected by the infection in his back. 

“He needed urgent surgeries, the first being to remove the foreign body. Our head of soft tissue surgery Will Robinson took charge to perform an exploratory laparotomy.

“He opened up Ted’s abdomen to try to locate the seed in the sub lumbar muscles, which was easier said than done, as it was directly under the main vein in the abdomen, called the vena cava.

“With careful dissection, though, the seed was found and removed, the abdominal wound closed, and Ted was immediately repositioned for his spinal surgery.

“I then performed a hemilaminectomy, to carefully access the spinal cord in order to remove and flush away all the infected material.

“After surgery, Ted stayed in the hospital’s intensive care unit for two weeks to be cared for and monitored as he recovered from his surgeries and the infection.

“Our dedicated veterinary physiotherapy and rehabilitation team were also involved with Ted while he was an inpatient, so it really was a multidisciplinary team effort involving Neurology, Soft Tissue, Anaesthesia and Physiotherapy. 

“Physiotherapy and rehabilitation then continued with him for four months to complete a very thorough and extremely successful recovery.”

Ted’s owners Arron and Hannah Ridgway, from Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, said they were stunned to learn a grass seed could have done so much damage.

Hannah admitted: “We were very concerned to learn the grass seed had travelled through Ted’s body and embedded underneath his spine.

“We were shocked a grass seed could cause such harm and have such a dramatic impact.

“When Ted was first admitted to the vets on Thursday evening he could still walk, however, by Friday morning the infection was a lot worse and he was unable to walk on his own. We were upset and worried for his wellbeing and just wanted the best for him.”

The expert team at Willows certainly delivered for Hannah and Arron, with Ted subsequently making a terrific recovery.

Arron said: “Ted is now living his best life and is back to off lead walks for over 45 minutes. It’s a remarkable recovery that has shocked us and even the vets. 

“We can’t thank Willows enough. They offered Ted the very best care and we couldn’t have asked for anything more. The whole team were invested and kept us up to date constantly.

“Every person we interacted with showed us that they cared deeply about Ted and we felt that every time we visited, which is why we will always recommend Willows to other pet owners.”