A five month-old puppy has made a shock overnight recovery after breaking his back in a car accident last week.
Vets and nurses of Penmellyn Vets, the St Columb Major Vet Hospital, are astonished at the recovery of Alfie, a five month-old, 3kg cavalier-cross-miniature poodle puppy after major spinal surgery to repair his broken back.
The car Alfie was travelling in was in a major car accident on Friday, flinging Alfie around inside. Whilst his owner was taken to hospital, Alfie was taken to the Cornwall Animal Hospital in Redruth and treated for mild bruising.
Over the weekend Alfie deteriorated and on Monday morning was unable to walk and in extreme pain. He was referred up to A30 Referrals, the veterinary surgical referral hospital in St Columb Major where he saw surgeon Colin Whiting as an emergency.
Colin said: “Alfie was totally unable to walk or move his hindlegs at all. His back was arched and he was vocalising pitifully despite initial pain relief having been administered.”
"A neuorological examination traced the location to the central portion of his back, with vertebral fracture or disc explosion possible causes. X-rays revealed the displaced bone fracture in his back: his spinal cord was stabilising his vertebrae, rather than the other way round, and leading to his extreme discomfort. We discussed findings with his owner Mr Paterson and proceeded to surgery”.
“The practice is equipped with a new design of metal plate and screw fixation, the locking plate. At Alfie’s size, smaller than a new-born baby, surgery to decompress his spinal cord and fuse a row of his vertebrae was challenging but the plate design facilitated the procedure.
"The surgical team including nurses Kathy Davies and Charlotte Carling held their breath as the digital processor printed post-operative x-rays which indicated the procedure had been a success. Alfie was taken through to the recovery ward and there were smiles all round amongst the clinical team. Recoveries from this type of spinal injury typically proceed over weeks to months; Alfie is a tiny puppy and so it was imperative he be kept warm immediately post-operatively.”
Alfie was closely monitored though the night and further pain relief administered. Tuesday morning brought an incredible sight. Ward nurse Emma Lakin greeted Colin with a chirpy Alfie tucked under her arm.
Colin said: “Emma had a big grin on her face, and I could see Alfie’s tail wagging. She said 'Watch this' and put Alfie down, on his lead, on the x-ray room floor, and he trotted over to me.
“We called Mr Paterson with an update, they visited this morning and already Alfie is stepping down on his pain-relief requirement and we are hopeful he can be discharged tomorrow. It was an utter joy to see him cockily marching across the consulting room floor to greet his visiting owners today, everywhere you look in the practice there are grinning faces as Alfie’s story spread throughout the hospital.”
“I suspect in some ways one of the hardest parts of the recovery will now be in his owner’s hands- keeping a sparkling little puppy under control throughout his convalescence.”
Alfie's broken back before the operation
And with the new locking plate
The surgical team and Alfie’s owners pictured with Alfie at visiting time