Dr. Shane Lyon, associate professor of small animal internal medicine at Oklahoma State University’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, recently placed bronchial stents in a dog for the first time at OSU. His patient, Lucy, is a 14-year-old Pomeranian owned by Tracy Spears of Woodward, Oklahoma.
“About five years ago, my regular veterinarian in Elk City, Dr. Keith Fuchs (OSU Vet Med ’86) discovered that Lucy had a collapsed trachea,” explained Spears. “He told me that OSU could probably do something to help her. Dr. Lyon did testing and discovered she had a collapsed trachea as well as collapsed bronchi. We elected to try medication and Dr. Lyon suggested that Lucy lose half of herself. She was overweight so that’s what we did. It worked wonderfully until about three or four months ago.”
“Lucy was having difficulties breathing,” said Lyon. “We put a tracheal stent in initially because tracheal collapse was her primary problem. About 10 days after the procedure, she was still having some respiratory difficulties and we decided she needed bronchial stents as well.”
Since Dr. Lyon had never performed a bronchial stent placement, there were decisions to be made.
“The patient is the most important thing so overall her wellbeing was our primary concern,” continued Lyon. “We offered to send her to somebody who has experience with bronchial stenting but Ms. Spears decided she wanted us to do the procedure here. So my colleague, Dr. Andrew Hanzlicek and I read through the procedure protocols and talked about the approach we were going to do and scheduled Lucy’s procedure. It went well.”
“I went to Dr. Lyon and I said I don’t know where you stand with this but I want you to know where I stand with it,” added Spears. “If we need to bring somebody in, we can but I trust you wholeheartedly. I want you to do it and I want to do it here. So that’s what we did.”
The stent placement procedure is one of several minimally invasive procedures performed at OSU’s Veterinary Medical Hospital. Lucy’s procedure did not require any incisions.
“Lucy was placed under anesthesia and positioned on her stomach,” said Lyon. “We passed a scope down her trachea into her lower airways and used a combination of fluoroscopy, which is a real time video x-ray system, and the endoscopy to place the stents. Basically, we passed a wire down through the scope and then passed the stent device over the wire into the airway we were targeting. Then while we watched on the fluoroscopy and endoscopy, we slowly deployed the bronchial stent to make sure it was in the right position. Lucy’s recovery time was pretty instantaneous once she woke up from anesthesia. She was already breathing better.”
“Lucy is doing great,” said Spears. “Prior to the stents, her activity level had pretty much dropped to nonexistent. She would be out of breath getting across the floor in the house. She wouldn’t come up on the porch anymore because she was worn out. Now she’s barking; she’s her bossy, sassy little self.”
According to Dr. Lyon, bronchial stents are becoming more common.
“Many times patients can be managed medically for their airway disease,” added Lyon. “A good conversation and consultation about what’s wrong with the pet and what’s the best approach will help decide if bronchial stents are needed.”
“I cannot say enough about Dr. Lyon,” said Spears. “During Lucy’s hospital stay he was on vacation some of the time. He came in anyway knowing how worried I was. Your animal is their priority. You feel like your animal is their animal. I felt that Dr. Lyon was just as invested in her (Lucy) as I was. He’s the doctor and twice I caught him giving Lucy baths. He could have had a student do it or something. No he did it himself. You don’t have to go somewhere else for bronchial stents. They have the facilities here. They have the knowledge and the ability. It’s more like a home not a hospital. I so appreciate Dr. Lyon for everything he did and Dr. Hanzlicek, too. I’ll never be able to repay him. He gave Lucy a second chance at life.”