RVC pioneers celebrate innovative surgery success

Clinicians at the RVC’s Queen Mother Hospital for Animals are celebrating after becoming the first team in the UK to successfully use a hypophysectomy to treat acromegaly in a cat.

Clinicians at the RVC’s Queen Mother Hospital for Animals are celebrating after becoming the first team in the UK to successfully use a hypophysectomy to treat acromegaly in a cat.

From left Stijn Niessen, the owners, with their cat Nutter and Patrick Kenny, at the time of discharge of the patient from the QMH.Removing the pituitary gland and the associated tumour that causes acromegaly or hyperadrenocorticism is the gold standard treatment in humans, but previously, the only treatments for acromegalic cats in the UK were radiation therapy or treatment of the resulting diabetes mellitus.
The RVC is only the fourth centre in the world to offer the new procedure. Patients that might benefit include cats and dogs with non-functional pituitary tumours, cats and dogs with hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease) and cats with acromegaly or hypersomatotropism.

Stijn Niessen, leading the hypophysectomy team, said: "As a relatively new and innovative procedure in veterinary medicine there are risks, as is recognised with every form of neurosurgery of this level. However, despite these risks, this surgery does offer owners a chance for the best possible result for their pet using a single procedure.

"Hypophysectomy represents the most elegant treatment method available, enabling complete removal of the brain tumour and normalisation of damaging excessive hormone levels that are causing hormonal diseases like acromegaly and hyperadrenocorticism.

"Especially when a pituitary tumour is diagnosed late, the alternative treatment method of radiation therapy might well take too long to take effect and devastating neurological signs might occur due to the pressure of the pituitary tumor on the surrounding brain. In such cases, hypophysectomy can make an instant difference in relieving that pressure.

The cat in question, named “Nutter”."However, in general, we would advocate the procedure to be considered as soon as possible following diagnosis, thereby preventing the animal’s body from becoming more and more negatively affected by the excessive hormone levels associated with pituitary diseases like acromegaly and hyperadrenocorticism,” he added.

Dr Niessen, a European specialist in internal medicine, will select patients suitable for the treatment, prepare them for surgery and manage the aftercare programme. The surgery will be performed by Patrick Kenny, a European and American specialist in veterinary neurology and neurosurgery.

The RVC is offering free blood tests for all diabetic dogs and cats, which includes fructosamine evaluation, and screening tests for the presence of acromegaly in cats.

Cats that record high hormone levels indicative of acromegaly will qualify for a free CT scan for confirmation.

If acromegaly is confirmed, all possible treatment options will be discussed with the client, including hypophysectomy. To request a free blood test for a patient, visit the RVC's website.

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