Little blind Teddy went into surgery this afternoon and came through the operation just fine. I took this photo at the clinic a couple of hours afterwards. I had posted earlier this week that our vets at Montana Veterinary Specialists in Helena had seen bladder stones and a dark shape -- thickened material of some sort -- in his gallbladder during his ultrasound.
Well, it turned out Teddy had about a week to live. His gallbladder was ready to explode. Literally. With his diabetes, that most likely would have been fatal, Dr. Brenda Culver told me this evening. In terms of total size, his gallbladder was about five times normal dimension. The bile duct, which is typically the size of a nylon fishing line, was nearly half an inch thick.
Here's what the gallbladder looked like after Brenda removed it ... she took these next several photos for me following surgery:
See all that black stuff under the surface? There's only supposed to be bile fluid in there.
But this is what was inside:
The lining of the gallbladder should be about the thickness of a balloon, but in Teddy's case it was half a centimeter thick:
While Brenda was waiting for me to get to the clinic, she put the gallbladder in a jar of saline solution. When I got there, she pulled it out and showed me what it looked like after she had sliced it open to see what was inside. In this next photo she's using her thumb and finger to indicate how big the gallbladder should be, just in terms of circumference ... but in Teddy's case the whole thing was so swollen in every dimension it was several times normal:
I mean, this is a tiny dog ... and that thing was huge!
Speaking of huge, here are his bladder stones -- all five of them!
Egads. All those in one itty bitty bladder. The largest one alone was a full centimeter in size:
I will admit, we were extremely nervous about doing the surgery, given all the risks involved with his frailness, his age, and his diabetes. To be blunt, we were afraid he might not survive the operation. Both Brenda and Jennifer spent a lot of time with me over the past several days, answering questions, reviewing the risks, and in general helping us weigh the pros and cons of the surgery. We are by nature very aggressive when it comes to medical intervention, but this time we were hesitant to proceed -- even though we had already agreed to go forward.
In a long conversation yesterday evening, Brenda told me it was a miracle Teddy had survived this long on his own. But, she added, without removing the bladder stones and finding out what was wrong with the gallbladder, we had very little chance of managing his diabetes successfully and giving him any time at all with a good quality of life. She said, "This is the only shot we've got to give him what you want him to have."
When I was at the clinic this afternoon looking at the grotesquely swollen and blackened gallbladder, and all those bladder stones, it was clear she had been absolutely right. Brenda said today, "If he hadn't come to you when he did, and if you didn't have the resources to do all this for him, he wouldn't have made it another week."
Brenda said his bladder incision should heal without a problem, and he will do fine without a gallbladder with some dietary adjustments. Barring any post-surgical complications, Teddy will be coming home later next week.
Thanks to Missoula Animal Control for rescuing this boy in the first place, and to all of you whose donations provide those all-important "resources" that make this kind of veterinary care possible. We just couldn't do it without you.