Dr. Cerf Presents Laser Surgical Procedure To The ACVIM

Dr. Dean J. Cerf recently presented a surgical technique that he developed to treat malignant urinary bladder tumors in dogs to the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.  The ACVIM is the Official Organization of the Veterinary Specialties of Small Animal Internal Medicine, Large Animal Medicine, Neurology, and Oncology.  It is considered one of the most prestigious veterinary groups in the world and Dr. Cerf said that it is a privilege to have been selected to present his surgical technique to this esteemed group.

Dr. Cerf conceived of the laser surgical technique when one of his patients, a wonderful dog named Shelby, developed a very malignant bladder cancer called transitional cell carcinoma.  Dr. Cerf had cared for Shelby since she was a puppy, and he could not accept the veterinary literature that gives such patients an average of 80-120 days to live with no viable way to extend their life much beyond this.  The tumor was causing Shelby a great deal of difficulty urinating and often resulted in blood in the urine.  Chemotherapy might have extended Shelby’s survival time to 350 days.  Unable to accept this prognosis for Shelby, Dr. Cerf said he conceived of a plan to use a very small endoscope to enter the urinary bladder, passed a diode laser into the bladder guided by ultrasound (sonogram) and vaporized the tumor.  Within a few hours Shelby was awake and urinating normally with no incision and no pain.

Dr. Cerf has since treated over 70 dogs with this technique and has traveled around the United States describing this technique to other doctors and teaching laser surgery.  Dr. Cerf’s technique has resulted in some dogs living over three years with several dogs still surviving to challenge these numbers.  Dr. Cerf said that he feels laser surgery is the future of surgery, pointing out the dramatic advantages of much less or no pain, negligible bleeding or no swelling.  Dr. Cerf believes the day will come when a scalpel will be considered a relic to be included in his collection of antique veterinary instruments.

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4 Responses

  1. Hi Dr.
    My 15 year old silky terrier was diagnosed with tcc yesterday. He has a number of health problems before this diagnosis. Diabetes, hypothyroid, suspected Cushing’s, had tplo and back surgery into the past, and a recent cataracts surgery. Oh, and he has chronic colitis! Our internist is reccomending meloxicam drops for him, instead of peroxicam. This is due to his chronic stomach issues. She has seen some patients have bad effects from peroxicam. She says chemo is an option, but there are no guarantees on the success with his case. He already is old and has a weak immune system. We just fought off demodex too! He was hospitalized for a couple days last week with aspirational pneumonia, but is home recovering and on clavamox. For his case, it is unique. What are your thoughts?
    By the way, I am a new yorker originally, my dad is cousin Brucie morrow! I live in south Florida now.
    Thanks!
    One sad doggy mom, meridith

    • Hello Meridith,

      Sorry to hear about your boy! It sounds like life has not been kind to him but he obviously has a good Mom so in that regard he is very lucky.

      I agree that the Meloxicam can be a more “gentle” drug with regard to the stomach and many oncologists feel that most of the NSAIDs will have the same or similar effect. Chemotherapy should also be considered if he tolerates it well. Piroxicam alone has a median survival time of about 180 days but when combined with mitoxantrone the median survival time jumps to about 350 days.

      If his tumor burden does not interfere with the flow of urine he could be quite comfortable and have a longer life with the combination. See the “CHEMO BOG” above to see what others have experienced with chemo.

      Good luck. Hope your boy is one of the lucky ones.

      Dr. Dean J. Cerf

      • Thank you kindly for your response. I will gather as much info as I can on chemo, and read your blog. My regular vet thinks it will be too much on him, as he is a very nervous dog when going to vet, the internist thinks it might be worth a try. Something I really have to think about, given his age. His is an unusual situation due to all his other health issues. I am sure you have never heard of one dog going through all this before! 15 is great considering. For now, he is comfortable, and urinating normally. One day at a time. We are in great hands at the palm beach veterinary specialists and critical care hospital. They are amazing. I have to trust they will choose the right plan for him. Thank you to doctors like you making such a difference!

        Meri b.

      • Do you think at 15 years old, it is fair to put him through chemo?

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