Surgery for 7 year old Berner - Advice Needed

Discussion in 'Bernese Mountain Dog Health Questions' started by Lindsay, Feb 28, 2018.

  1. Lindsay

    Lindsay New Member

    Hi All:

    We are struggling terribly with whether to have our sweet Berner (Miles, 7 years old) undergo surgery.

    Miles has been diagnosed with double hip dysplasia in the last year. More recently, he has also been diagnosed with a spinal arachnoid cyst. The cyst (probably compounded by the hip dysplasia) has caused his hind legs to weaken considerably over the last 8 months. We saw a neurologist 8 months ago and had an MRI and she recommended a conservative treatment of steroids rather than surgery. Poor Miles is now at a point where we need to use a harness on his back end to help him walk the majority of the time. He cannot go on walks because he is unstable and can barely get around the house or get in the car. It is really heartbreaking to watch and I can tell his neck and shoulders hurt from dragging his back end around. He is the sweetest boy in the world, but his quality of life is getting worse by the day. Only a few bathroom accidents in the house, miraculously.

    After a third visit to the neurologist and a second MRI, we are scheduled for surgery tomorrow.

    The surgery is invasive (down to the spinal cord), I'm sure will be painful and will have a long (months) recovery time with required aqua therapy etc. They will not be able to remove the cyst since it is too long and are trying to target the part that is compressing the spine the most. The best outcomes for this type of surgery (which is extremely rare to begin with) are when the dog is under 3 years old and the symptoms have been present for less than 4 months (double "no" for us). He will have to be boarded at the vet's for at least a week until he is able to get up again. There is no clear answer as to whether the surgery will improve his condition. It is possible he could be the same or worse after surgery, which would break my heart. Since the surgery is so invasive, there is a possibility he could never get up again.

    Here is my question, if Miles was your dog, what would you do? I would LOVE for the surgery to "work" and would be overjoyed if he regained any mobility. It is our only shot at having him improve. But, he is also a 7 year old Berner with double hip dysplasia and 8 months of possibly irreversible spinal cord damage. The surgeon feels comfortable proceeding with the surgery, but I wonder if I am being unkind to Miles by putting him through this when he would rather sit in the grass until he tells us he is done.

    Thank you so much for your thoughts.

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