Canine surgery employs human cleft palate procedure

A cleft palate, common in purebred dogs and cats, creates difficulties in eating and drinking, according to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons.

This was true as well for a 22-week old mixed breed Pit bull/bull dog named Mr. Moo born with the deformity and then some—no soft palate at all.

But thanks to a unique partnership between a veterinary hospital and a pediatric plastic surgeon, Mr. Moo got help. His surgery, on May 14, resulted in the elimination of nasal reflux of food or water. 

When Mr. Moo was brought to Michigan State University (MSU) Veterinary Medical Center, his owner reported that he had a  “nasal” bark, milk draining from his sinuses when nursing as a puppy, and was expelling food from his nose when eating.

Bryden J. Stanley, VBMS, MACVSc, MVetSc, Diplomate ACVS and Section Head of Surgery at MSU College of Veterinary Medicine, a specialist in soft tissue surgery in animals, examined Mr. Moo and contacted a pediatric plastic surgeon for help.

John Girotto, MD, Pediatric Plastic Surgeon, Chief of Craniofacial Surgery at the Devos Children’s Hospital, and Associate Professor, MSU Department of Surgery, College of Human Medicine, then partnered with Stanley to perform surgery.

The surgical reconstruction involved moving Mr. Moo’s markedly short soft palate backwards, using caudal palatal translation, and then making a new palate with double-opposing buccal mucosal flaps.

The surgery utilized new techniques developed at Girotto’s hospital for repairing and lengthening the soft palate, reported Michigan Live.

Mr. Moo has had three follow-up appointments since his surgery, the last one on July 6.

“[Mr. Moo] has been given a clean bill of health as far as his palate repair is concerned,” Stanley told NEWStat, “but we would like to see him back every 6 months to perform a head CT, which will help the study determine how skull and facial growth is affected by surgery, which is so important in kids with clefts. We also have DNA from Mr. Moo, and all our cleft pups, to undertake genetic investigations.”

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