BTN LiveBIG: Michigan State doctors repair pup's palate

BTN LiveBIG: Michigan State doctors repair pup's palate

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It’s hard not to fall in love with a dog like Mr. Moo. The stout, good-natured puppy greets people with a friendly vibe that wins them over instantly.

But he had a problem, one that’s fairly common in his fellow canines as well as their two-legged companions: cleft palate. This condition causes part of the roof of a person’s (or animal’s) mouth to run into the nose, which sometimes — but not always — leads to cleft lip. It can also produce a host of further challenges in everything from eating to socialization in the species it affects.

Mr. Moo’s owners sought medical treatment for his particularly serious case, a journey that led them to Dr. Bryden Stanley, chief of surgery in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences at Michigan State’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Stanley, who’s been at MSU for 18 years, described the dog’s cleft palate as “difficult to repair.” Fortunately for both of them, Stanley had access to the ideas and expertise of her colleagues in Michigan State’s College of Human Medicine, including Dr. John Girroto, associate professor of surgery and craniofacial plastic surgeon at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.

“We were having a study group meeting about our cleft palate,” she said. “Dr. Girotto and I were talking about cases that we’d had recently, and I said I had this particularly challenging one. He mentioned that they had developed a technique in the College of Human Medicine at DeVos Children’s Hospital that might work really well.

“The difference in this surgery with Mr. Moo compared to our other cleft-palate surgeries is that we took tissue from the sides of the cheek rather than from anywhere else in the pharynx. I don’t think this technique has been done in a dog before, and it hasn’t been published if it has been done.”

The doctors will track Mr. Moo’s progress as he grows up to validate that the surgery achieves the intended results over time, and ensure other animals with this condition can be similarly helped. But for the time being, he’s in dog heaven.

Watch the one-minute video above to see why Mr. Moo is all smiles these days.


By Brian Summerfield


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