A team from the UC Davis’ veterinary hospital, California, managed to perform a successful surgery that allowed the 4-year-old collie, Leah to overcome her paralysis.

About six months ago, owner Fran Cole saw that her dog went missing for a whole day. She was found by a local veterinary institution and the owner was called. When Leah’s owner saw her return home she was injured and had a laceration on her face.

During the following days, her condition seemed to improve but it suddenly deteriorated and was rendered unable to walk, most likely due to being hit by either a car or a deer’s hoof.

Leah and her owner Fran Cole. Photo credit: CBS Sacramento
Leah and her owner Fran Cole. Photo credit: CBS Sacramento

Leah’s injuries

At first, it was thought that Leah was infected with tetanus, which can affect the nervous system. The consequent treatment was applied but there were no positive results. The veterinarians discarded tetanus and transferred Leah to UC Davis.

CT scans and an MRI were applied to the border collie. According to the chief of neurological surgery at UC Davis’ veterinary hospital, Dr. Karen Vernau, Leah was suffering from atlantooccipital luxation, a severe condition on her skull, as “the bone was broken and totally pulled off the back of the head”, indicating the possibility of her suffering a significant trauma.

As the team went into surgery, they had learned that Leah’s brain and spinal cord were separated and had to perform a delicate procedure to reduce the nerve compression between both structures.

When the surgery ended and Leah gained consciousness she was already able to move her extremities. After just one month, Leah was able to stand without support and not falling. A rehabilitation regime applied over two weeks allowed her to walk on her own; she was then transferred to another rehabilitation institution so she could regain her normal lifestyle.

“She has resumed pretty much her old lifestyle. You know, digging in bushes for squirrels, and spending her days … you know, she loves to be outside,” Cole commented on Leah’s recovering.

The surgery proved to be a success, as “most times when this happens the animal or person dies”, according to Dr. Vernau.

Source: UC Davis Veterinary Medicine