- Four-year-old Caucasian Shepherd dog had life saved after demanding surgery
- The giant tumour was growing from her jaw and putting pressure on her brain
- 3D model meant every bone cut could be planned with exceptional accuracy
- Her owner Jo Fergurson said it was ‘absolutely unbelievable she is still here’
PUBLISHED: 06:34 EST, 18 December 2020 | UPDATED: 06:34 EST, 18 December 2020
A puppy has had a cricket ball-sized tumour removed after an eight-hour operation so demanding that the vet practised on a 3D model of her jaw beforehand.
Molly, a four-year-old Caucasian Shepherd dog, had her life saved after the cancerous growth, which made her face swell to twice its size, was found bulging under her left eye.
Owner Jo Fergurson became concerned for her pooch’s life last year and took her to Wear Referrals, in Bradbury, County Durham.
CT scans revealed the giant tumour – which was bigger than a man’s fist – was growing from her jaw and putting pressure on her brain.
The eight-hour operation required to remove it was so demanding surgeon Jon Hall practised on a hi-tech 3D digital reconstruction of Molly’s jaw.
He successfully excised the tumour only for the cancer to aggressively grow back.
The specialist in small animal surgery performed an even riskier second operation and Molly is now responding well to chemotherapy.
Owner Jo, from Sunderland, said: ‘Molly really is a miracle dog and it’s absolutely unbelievable she is still here.
‘It’s a very rare, aggressive form of cancer which affects only one or two dogs in a million and I must admit there were a number of times when we feared we were going to lose her.
‘She’s a real fighter, though and has amazed everyone with her incredible will to survive.
‘She’s four-and-a-half now and is full of life and energy and, with her condition now stable, we’re looking forward to a very Happy Christmas together.
‘We can’t thank Jon and team at Wear Referrals enough for everything they have done for Molly.
‘Without them, she would no longer be with us and because of them, she is back to her happy and contented self and making a fantastic recovery.’
Jon said: ‘Molly had a huge tumour located in her lower jaw which had grown into the space behind her eye.
‘It’s a rare condition but, normally, if this type of skull mass can be completely removed then the long-term prognosis for the animal can be good.
‘Part of the challenge for us was to remove all of the mass whilst making sure Molly would be able to use her jaw normally afterwards and still have a good quality of life.
‘The main problem, though, was that the giant cancer was getting so big that it was also pushing through her cheekbone, making her eye bulge, and through her cranium, putting pressure on her brain.
‘This presented us with a real difficulty because major vessels and nerves around the huge mass would be hard to identify creating the risk of life-threatening bleeding, permanent damage to important nerves or fatal injury to her brain.
‘However, using the sterilised 3D model meant every bone cut could be planned with exceptional accuracy and guide the complex surgery on the day.
‘It’s very unusual for this type of tumour to be so biologically aggressive, so it was a very surprising and disappointing development.
‘Usually, you would not attempt a second surgery in a location such as this, especially following radiation treatment which can damage the tissues.
‘But, after discussing the scenario with Molly’s owner, we decided a second operation was the best option in the circumstances.
‘Again, the operation went very well and now Molly is undergoing chemotherapy and she’s responding well.
‘The disease is stable and she is bright, comfortable and doing really well.
‘She’s certainly a remarkable dog and has battled bravely all through this ordeal.’