leighglerum_profileIt’s never good news when a dog suffers from gallbladder mucocele – and we hope that yours never does.

Explains SAGE surgeon Leigh Glerum, DVM, DACVS: “Gallbladder mucocele is an accumulation of jelly-like material in the gallbladder lumen. The presence of this material alone can cause abdominal or gastrointestinal (GI) signs in dogs. The same material can eventually find its way into the common bile duct, causing blockage to the normal flow of bile. This results in a host of more serious clinical problems, including icterus (jaundice) and potentially peritonitis (with gallbladder rupture).”

If this sounds serious – even life-threatening – that’s because it is. Recommended treatment typically involves removing the gallbladder in a surgical procedure referred to as a cholecystectomy.

Thankfully, advances in human medicine are now flowing quickly to veterinary specialty care hospitals like SAGE, and that includes a minimally invasive surgical option for this exact situation.

“Laparoscopy is the surgical modality of choice for removal of diseased gallbladders in humans,” says Dr. Glerum. “SAGE now offers the same therapy for dogs whose clinical pictures are appropriate.”

Initially, Dr. Glerum will be the only SAGE veterinary surgeon performing canine laparoscopic cholecystectomies. Dr. Glerum has always been at the forefront of SAGE’s commitment to offering minimally invasive veterinary surgical alternatives. More than a decade ago, she was the first SAGE surgeon to offer laparoscopy and thoracoscopy options, starting with liver biopsies and moving quickly to more complicated procedures.

laparoscopy
Where once unusual, today it is hard to imagine practicing specialty veterinary medicine without offering both traditional and technology-driven, minimally invasive veterinary care options.

The difference between traditional and minimally invasive surgery starts with the incision. Instead of using a single long incision, for a minimally invasive procedure the surgeon makes several short incisions. The surgeon then performs the surgery with special instruments, aided visually by a small camera inserted internally, the images from which are projected onto a computer screen.

Minimally invasive surgery doesn’t necessarily take less time than a traditional surgical procedure, and it can be a bit more expensive. Its primary advantages come from decreased post-operative pain, generally requiring less pain medication, and providing your pet with a more rapid return to normal attitude and appetite.

Today, SAGE veterinary specialists in all four of our hospitals have expertise in a wide range of surgical areas including orthopedic, soft tissue, cancer and neurologic surgery. This includes expertise in open surgery as well as minimally invasive techniques, including laparoscopy (abdomen), thoracoscopy (chest) and arthroscopy (joints). This allows us to match recommendations to situation and expected outcome, factoring in the relative health condition of the patient.

Meanwhile, we are always striving to improve our offerings in keeping with medical advances and veterinary industry best practices.

For Dr. Glerum, laparoscopic cholecystectomy is a natural addition to her surgical offerings. She performs this and other minimally invasive procedures, as well as more traditional (open) surgeries out of SAGE Redwood City.