A Yorkshire vet has told the dramatic story of how a young Labrador had to have a hind leg amputated after it was damaged beyond reconstruction by a rare attack of invasive fatty lumps. David Barker, a soft tissue surgeon at Linnaeus-owned Paragon Veterinary Referrals in Wakefield, revealed how the lumps, called infiltrative lipomas, grew and spread aggressively.
The lipomas spread up through three-year-old Ember’s leg into her pelvis and, most damagingly, in between her muscles. Fortunately, Ember’s surgery went well and she quickly learned to walk again, returning home a few days later.
David said: “Ember came to us with a large swelling on her left hind limb. We diagnosed large infiltrative lipomas, a form of lipoma which is not common, and unfortunately for Ember these benign lesions were extensive.
“A CT scan showed that the lipomas had infiltrated into the muscles of the thigh and gluteal regions with devastating results. Surgery was the only option and required removal of the limb, along with the gluteal muscles and part of the pelvis.
“The operation took three hours and went well. Ember recovered quickly. It took about half a day for her to learn how to walk again, by the second day she was trying to run as normal and the next day she went home.”
Owner Carra Howard, from Hull, admits she was worried about the impact of the amputation necessary to remove the lipomas on Ember and asked the expert staff at Paragon for help before she visited for the first time.
Carra said: “I asked the staff to send me some photos so I wasn’t shocked and upset by what she now looked like. I didn’t want to transmit any worry or upset to Ember when I saw her, I just wanted to give her a big hug and lots of love and reassure her all was going to be OK.
“When I did eventually get to see her, she was slipping a lot and losing her balance which was a bit alarming but it was so exciting to get her back.
“When we went home David had imposed strict instructions that she was not to climb stairs, run or jump so I slept downstairs with her to keep an extra eye on her during her recovery. She was quite needy and seemed worried at first but now she’s doing very well and is improving every single day.”
Carra, a teacher at Bishop Burton Agricultural College near Beverley, is keen for Ember’s case to highlight the threat of infiltrative lipomas, which are uncommon. She added: “It all started when she was about one year old. At first it was just one lump on her leg and then others starting coming up.
“I wasn’t too worried at that stage because they were benign not cancerous and this was proven after biopsies. But when they kept growing and spreading, I decided that was enough and I didn’t want them to get any bigger.
“So, I took Ember to have the lumps removed and the vets said they had taken out as much of the fatty lumps as possible but warned me there could be more growing between the muscles. Sure enough, within five or six months, the lipomas were growing back and I wanted a second opinion. This is when I was referred straight away to Paragon for specialist care.
“To be honest, I’d been preparing myself mentally for amputation since the outcome of her first operation in February. It’s still not great to hear your dog must lose one of its limbs but I knew it was for the best and we could then both learn how to go forward together.
“That’s exactly what we’ve done and Ember is coming on in leaps and bounds.
“I can’t thank Paragon’s staff enough for the work they have done with Ember, along with the support I had once I got her home. I will be forever thankful for giving Ember a new lease of life.”
For more information on Paragon Veterinary Referrals, visit their website or search for Paragon Veterinary Referrals on social media.