COLLABORATING TO CURE
On Oct. 10, 2018, when Werner checked in for his surgery, the VMTH neurology and oncology teams had come up with an innovative solution.
Because of the amount of skull Werner would lose in the operation, his clinicians would need to find a way to rebuild his skull from scratch.
Dr. Michael Deveau, a clinical assistant professor in the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) and holder of the Katherine and Rebecca Rochelle Chair in Oncology, reviewed CT scans of healthy dogs to generate a new skull piece that would replace the excised portion of bone. He collaborated with Dr. Elizabeth Scallan, in the Clinical Skills Laboratory, to make a 3D print of the skull replacement pieces and to engineer a mold that could be used in the operating room.
During surgery, Dr. Joseph Mankin, a clinical associate professor in the neurology service, and Dr. Maya Krasnow, a second-year resident in neurology, filled the mold with a material called poly methyl methacrylate (PMMA), a type of shatter-resistant plastic.
The PMMA hardened in minutes, and readily created Werner’s new skull. Beside them, Dr. Brandon Wustefeld-Janssens, one of the VMTH’s veterinary surgical oncologists, removed Werner’s right eye.
After his eight-hour surgery, Werner faced a long recovery.
“The first night was rough,” Streicher remembered. “I’m not going to lie—I wondered if I did the right thing, if I kept him here for me or if I kept him here because it was the right thing to do.”
But after several nights of sleeping by Werner’s side at home, things started to look up. Werner’s original, playful attitude started to shine through again, so much so that he had to return to the VMTH mid-recovery to have more stitches placed around his incision areas for security.
Streicher hopes to have Werner certified as a therapy dog to help comfort children undergoing cancer treatment.
“He is just amazing,” Streicher said. “The fact that he’s still here is just a miracle. He is Werner the Wonder Dog.”
The Streicher family is extremely grateful for the efforts made by the VMTH team to save Werner’s life. Specifically, Streicher said she credits Texas A&M with “taking the chance.” For that, she says she will always recommend the VMTH for quality veterinary care.
“If you need any care that goes above and beyond, just go to Texas A&M. Just do it. You won’t be sorry,” she said.
At the end of February, Streicher brought Werner back to College Station, but as a guest of honor instead of a patient.