The talented veterinary experts at UC Davis often put animals back together again, but Ziba was a special case.
The 8-month-old female Rottweiler’s large skull was run over and crushed by a vehicle tire. The horrible event four months ago left her with more fractures and trauma than usually seen by surgeons at the UC Davis veterinary hospital.
“She was a Humpty Dumpty,” said Boaz Arzi, assistant professor in the university’s Dentistry and Oral Surgery Service.
Ziba was a severe case because she had injuries all around her skull. Experts looked at the trauma, determined how it could be fixed and what the long-term consequences of surgery would be.
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“You can put a plate on anything, but it’s a question of how they will do later,” Arzi said Friday.
It was determined that the canine’s youth would make her a good candidate for surgery. The neurology service evaluated Ziba’s mental status to see if there was brain damage. The ophthalmology service evaluated her vision to see if at least one eye would be good. And the imaging service looked at the skull fractures with a CT scan.
“With all this information, we had to come up with a game plan for reconstruction,” said Arzi. “What needs to be put together? How difficult will it be? What can we do and what can we not do?”
Oral surgeon Arzi said the surgery involved nearly five hours of precise work in which surgeons took great care not to damage nerves. Being at a teaching hospital, residents also were involved, as were hospital staff.
The team reconstructed Ziba’s skull and jaws by closing the fractures with titanium mini-plates and screws, which were positioned to re-establish the normal anatomy of the bones and joints.
Arzi said Ziba was one of the more difficult cases he has seen. In addition to the fractures, she had a leak of brain fluid from her nose, another sign of the extent of damage.
Ziba survived and is doing much better. After two weeks, her sutures were removed and an examination revealed she is still blind in one eye.
A month later, wiring and two broken teeth were removed. She was able to eat for the first time since the injury. She remained on crate rest but was allowed short walks, according to a press release from the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.
Three months after surgery, the fractures were healing properly and there was no evidence of infection. On Friday, Ziba was to be examined again as she makes her way toward recovery.
“Dogs recover faster than humans,” said Arzi. “They don’t feel sorry for themselves. And it is something inherently related to survival.”