Matamata Veterinary Services | Latest News

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More than expected in Vavau

February 16, 2012

Nigel is a very keen (and occasionally successful) fisherman so when he was invited on a fishing trip to Vavau in northern Tonga it was an opportunity he could not slip by. On a previous trip Nigel had got to know Jeff and Janine LeStrange who ran a game fishing charter business on the island. There is no veterinary care on the island and knowing how much they loved their dog, Nigel enquired if there was anything he could do while he was up there.

“I was sort of expecting a request for some flea treatment or maybe some medicines. I was stunned to learn their pet dog was running round with a broken leg!!! To add to the problem he was also having real trouble peeing.” Frantic emailing of photos and advice and the help of the local GP allowed Nigel to come up with a plan. It was a long way from a sterile air-conditioned theatre, lots of corners had to be cut but without rapid help Tommy was in strife. So in the middle of the fishing trip, on a table overlooking beautiful Port of Refuge Harbor, Tommy was anesthetized and surgery began.

Nigel explained” The first priority was to get Tommy peeing again. A tumor had totally obliterated the end of his sheath which was tightly distended with urine. We first removed the tumor then formed a new opening for Tommy to urinate through”.

The anesthetic was pretty primitive but Tommy was doing really well so they continued on to the leg. Unfortunately the fracture had occurred over a month previously and there was a need to minimize possible complications so the fracture could not be properly reduced. Using some local equipment and instruments and implants brought from NZ, Nigel inserted pins across the bones which were attached to rigid external frames that kept the fracture immobilized.

To date both procedures have been very successful. The mass turned out to be a special contagious tumour diagnosed for the first time in Tonga. Nigel is currently writing a report for publication in the NZ Veterinary Journal while Tommy still enjoys a free-flow urine stream. Three months post-op and the pins are still in Tommy’s leg. He is walking around on it and it is hoped an animal welfare group visiting the island later this month may be able to remove them.

Otherwise Nigel might just have to take another trip back to Vavau-and perhaps include a bit more fishing.