Specialty Soft Tissue Surgery

Specialty Soft Tissues Surgery for Pets – Lake Geneva, WI

Lake Geneva Animal Hospital performs the majority of specialty surgeries once only found at referral-type veterinary hospitals. We are constantly implementing new techniques and procedures to stay on the cutting edge of veterinary medicine. For example, we have extensive experience utilizing endoscopic equipment which creates smaller incisions and less post-operative pain. It has always been part of our philosophy that we will do as many procedures “in-house” as possible rather than sending our clients hours away. Often, we can offer advanced procedures at a lower cost than many referral hospitals. Because of our ability to perform these advanced procedures, animals commonly come from hours away to as much as across the country to be treated at our hospital. We also work extensively with a board-certified surgeon that comes to our hospital as well as a variety of specialty clinics when needed to ensure the best care for our patients.

Brachiocephalic Syndrome

Brachiocephalic Syndrome refers to the breathing problems seen in short-snout dogs like English Bulldogs, Pugs, Boston Terriers and other breeds. Though the snorting, wheezing and snoring seen in these animals is often thought of as “cute”, it is a serious condition that severely affects the dog’s quality of life. Narrow nostrils combined with an elongated soft palate (the tissue in the back of the mouth) result in a very narrowed airway. That snorting is the dog struggling to get enough air. Most dogs with Brachiocephalic Syndrome need both nostrils opened and their soft palate resected with a surgical laser or radiofrequency probe in order to open their airway. Some will also need removal of “everted saccules”, small pouches of tissue that normally sit against the windpipe but become “everted” into the airway due to the dog’s constant struggle to breathe. These procedures open the airway allowing the dog to breathe more normally and even exercise.

Lung Lobe Removal

Lung lobe removal is most commonly done due to lung cancer or severe infections. The doctors at Lake Geneva Animal Hospital use laparoscopy to assist in the removal of the affected lung. This allows for smaller incisions and staging of the cancer prior to completing this very difficult surgery. The lungs are first visualized to check for more involved disease and to ensure proper placement of the incision to be used for lung removal. Because lung lobe removal must be done between the ribs, it is imperative that the incision is placed correctly. Laparoscopic visualization often eliminates having to “spread” the ribs and greatly reduces post-operative pain.

Liver Biopsy & Lobe Removal

The liver is often the site of diseases or abnormal growths. Often, a problem is first discovered on bloodwork and confirmed with an ultrasound. Definitive diagnosis often requires a biopsy where a small piece of the liver is taken laparoscopically and sent to a pathologist for analysis. If there is a mass or tumor, it can be staged by examining the rest of the liver for the spread of disease. Many times the disease is a form of hepatitis (liver inflammation) that is not cancerous. Hepatitis comes in many forms but the biopsy can determine the cause and treatment options. Most of these procedures are done as an out-patient through a small incision.

Liver lobe removal is almost always done due to a tumor and may be done at the same time as the laparoscopic exam. Many primary liver tumors are benign (non-cancerous but often very large) or single, cancerous tumors that can be surgically removed. A liver lobe can usually be taken without any significant loss of liver function to the patient.


Large, deep-chested dogs are particularly prone to the stomach filling with gas and twisting. This condition is known as Gastric Dilation and Volvulus (GDV or “bloat”). It is an emergency situation, extremely painful, and the patient’s condition deteriorates quickly. Left untreated, bloat is always fatal. Preventive surgery to permanently suture the stomach to the abdominal wall (termed “gastropexy”) can be done to nearly eliminate the risk of bloat and we recommend it for all high-risk breeds. It is most commonly done at the time of the spay or neuter but can be done at any age.

Bladder Stone Removal

Bladder stones are one of the most common disorders of the urinary system. They are concretions of sediment in the urine and can be secondary to improper diet, infection, or other causes. The endoscope has become a very useful method for bladder stone removal allowing a much smaller incision and a much more thorough examination of the bladder. With traditional surgery, a large incision is made in the bladder and the stones are removed by hand. The bladder is searched “by feel” with the surgeon feeling blindly for the stones. Unfortunately, the bladder narrows as it turns into the urethra and cannot be adequately examined in this way. Stones often fall into this area and may be missed by the surgeon. The endoscope’s small size and greater illumination allow for direct visualization of this area and the entire bladder ensuring that all stones are successfully removed.

Perineal Urethrostomy

Male cats are uniquely prone to urinary obstruction. Their urethra narrows near the tip of the penis, making it commonplace for small urinary stones to lodge. Urine is constantly produced by the kidneys, but without being able to be excreted, the bladder enlarges in size and is at risk of rupture. Obstructed cats are very painful and often do not eat or play. Initially, the cat is placed under anesthesia and a urinary catheter is inserted for a short time to relieve the obstruction. Despite medical and nutritional management, some cats continue to experience urinary obstruction. For these cats, a perineal urethrostomy is performed in which the penis tip is partially removed and the urethra split open to a level where it naturally widens closer toward the bladder. This is a technically challenging procedure that should be only done by experienced veterinarians. When healed, the patient will now have a much wider urethra and recurrent blockages are very rare. The use of prescription food to prevent the recurrence of stones or crystals is recommended but not essential in most cats.