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Veterinarians remove wood fragment stuck behind dog's eye for about 1 month

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  February 13, 2012 10:12 AM

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Jake After Surgery to Remove Stick.JPG

(MSPCA-Angell Animal Medical Center)

Veterinarians said they not believe that the vision of 8-year-old German shorthaired pointer Jake has been affected by his ordeal.

Delicate surgery to remove part of a tree branch lodged behind a dog’s eye for about one month was a success, according to veterinarians at the Jamaica Plain animal medical center where he was treated.

In a two-hour operation two weeks ago, staff at the MSPCA-Angell Animal Medical Center removed a 4-centimeter stick fragment from an 8-year-old German shorthaired pointer named Jake. They do believe that his vision has been affected by the ordeal.

The Stick Removed from Jakes Eye.JPG
(MSPCA-Angell Animal Medical Center)
The 4-cm stick fragment.
In late December while on a walk through the woods behind his family’s home in South Hamilton, Jake charged head first into a tree branch, lodging the stick directly into his face, behind his right eye, according to officials at the animal care facility.

His owners rushed him to a local veterinarian, who removed all visible remnants of the branch and stitched up the wound, officials said.

But, worried something still wasn’t quite right, the family brought Jake to the nonprofit medical center in JP. Staff there said board-certified ophthalmologists Dan Biros and Martin Coster examined him carefully and suspected small pieces of the stick may not have been extracted.

Radiologist Kathy Beck took a series of MRI images revealed the fragment still lodged between the back of Jake’s eye and the base of his skull.

The stick not only caused the dog “serious pain,” but the veterinarian eye specialists said that 30 percent of Jake’s retina had detached and that the fragment would have caused more damage.

Veterinarian Coster, surgery department director Mike Pavletic and anesthesiologist Jeff Wilson and his team performed the surgery on Jan. 25, officials said.

“In the past, removal of the eye might have been required in such a case,” said a statement from Angell Animal Medical Center. “However this was unacceptable to Jake’s family, as well as to the Angell doctors who believed they’d be able to save Jake’s eye and his vision.”

The surgery was a success and performed without causing any further threat to Jake’s vision, according to the medical center. Coster has been seeing Jake for follow-up treatment since the surgery.

“The dog has been healing well,” officials said in a statement. “He is now back to his spirited self.”

A long course of antibiotics has been required, and Jake’s eye is permanently sunken from scar tissue, veterinarians said. His vision has not been worsened as a result of the incident, though staff at the medical center believe Jake’s accidental run-in with the tree branch may have been the result of existing vision problems.

For more information about the medical center’s ophthalmology and other specialty services, click here.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at
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Jake with Dr. Martin Coster of Angell Animal Medical Center.JPG

(MSPCA-Angell Animal Medical Center)

Jake with veterinarian Martin Coster.

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