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Dr. Morgan Murphy prepping for surgery

Successful Surgeries

Every day is an adventure in the Hixson-Lied Small Animal Hospital.

But a series of recent patients presented to the hospital were well beyond the routine experienced by veterinarians such as Dr. Morgan Murphy, an anesthesiologist who worked on each of the cases.

“These type of patients push me as a clinician to be much better at my job,” Murphy said. “They are very rewarding and we get to work together as a team. These cases saw each of these patients at their most vulnerable state. If you make one mistake – well, let me say there was no room for error.

“Other places I’ve worked at wouldn’t have even taken these cases.”

Luke, a five-year-old male Labrador Retriever

Luke was admitted for difficulty breathing. After he was stabilized, an ultrasound was performed to attempt to determine the underlying cause of infectious fluid in his chest.

The ultrasound revealed a possible foreign object in a portion of Luke’s left lung. Surgery was recommended and performed by Dr. Adrien Aertsens who has advanced training in performing thoracoscopy, a less invasive surgery.

A thoracoscope, which is a thin, flexible instrument with a light and small video camera at the end, was inserted through a small incision in Luke’s chest.

The surgery was such a success that Luke went home three days afterwards and has made a full recovery.

“Usually patients have a median sternotomy performed and they spend over a week in the hospital and at least eight weeks to fully recover,” Murphy said.

Bella, a two-year old female Golden Retriever

Bella came to Iowa State in severe shock after suffering a gunshot wound. She also had extensive damage to all her lung tissue on the right side of her chest.

The Emergency and Critical Care Service stabilized Bella prior to her surgery. Once in surgery, the damaged lung tissue was removed using special surgical staples.

“Bella’s case required a large team of specialists to make sure she received the necessary care to get her through such a major procedure,” Murphy said. “These type of cases require strong communication between teams, collaboration and around-the-clock care.

“It is such a rewarding feeling to care for a patient when they are at their most vulnerable and get them through surgery and ultimately home to their family.”

Ella, a 10-year-old female Labrador Retriever

Ella came to the Hixson-Lied Small Animal Hospital with a possible cancerous growth on the end of her nose.

Typically a traditional surgery is performed to remove this cancerous tissue and the results have been unsatisfactory. A newer technique is now used by Iowa State’s Soft Tissue Surgery Service that significantly improves the postoperative cosmetic appearance of the animal.

“Our clinicians were not only able to cut the cancer out, but were also able to reconstruct Ella’s face,” Murphy said. “She is looking beautiful after her reconstruction surgery.

“Each of these cases were high risk but if the client wants to proceed, then there is a good chance they will be successful.”

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