Her name is Lola, she is a bulldog…
Lola was one of those cases we almost never see in practice. She was born with a severe cleft palate which normally means she was unlikely to survive past the first few weeks of life. However, Lola was a fighter and with the care of her owners she managed to make it to 16 weeks old despite the odds. Lola was now old enough and strong enough to undergo reconstruction surgery. Lola’s hard and soft palate were cleft the entire length and the hard palate was particularly wide requiring a tricky operation to fill the gap. This surgery was put into the trusted hands of our vet Martin.
A date was made for the surgery and Lola’s owners had an anxious wait. Making the decision to put Lola through the surgery was not taken lightly not only because of her cleft palate but also due to the fact bulldogs are already a higher risk anaesthetic.
The complicated surgery required Martin to cut the healthy tissue on one side of the gap and fold it over and ‘sandwich” it between the tissue on the other side. The palate has a very good blood supply and bleeds significantly during the operation. The most vital part is being very careful to not damage the major palatine artery which runs under the new flap of tissue. This artery supplies blood to the flap and ensures it can heal and become the new roof to Lola’s mouth. If you look carefully you can see the artery in the photo.
After the surgery Lola was placed into recovery where she required intensive nursing assessments to ensure her pain was managed and she was given the most important TLC.
Lola was discharged from the hospital the next day and bounced out of the practice – she was very brave and lively even after such major surgery. Her owners were overjoyed to get her home. It was now down to them to try and follow the strict post-operative care instructions, which often isn’t easy with such a young inquisitive dog.
We now have a nervous two or three weeks to wait and see if Lola’s new hard palate heals properly.