In December we told you about Liam, a 13-year old sled dog who had just been diagnosed with a chondrosarcoma tumor in his scapula. In many cases dogs will lose their leg to this type of cancer, but Liam was a great candidate for a partial scapulectomy.
It’s strange to consider, but dogs don’t even need a scapula to get around. “The shoulder blade is stabilized to the chest wall with multiple muscles,” explains his vet, Dr. Beth Lewis.
When cancer in the scapula is present, vets can remove the entire scapula to get rid of the tumor, but a partial scapulectomy is even better. A partial scapulectomy procedure removes about 75 percent of the shoulder blade and muscle tissue around the tumor, while allowing the dog to keep the leg.
Liam is a sled dog so keeping his leg meant the difference between running with the team or never mushing again.
We are happy to report that Liam is now recovered and running with his team in snowy Alaska, loving another great season just three months after he was diagnosed with chondrosarcoma! Here’s a recent video his mom TC sent to us:
“That is his scruffy butt on the left, closest to the sled. Seemed to tolerate it well and not at all sore so far!” — Liam’s mom, TC
A cancer diagnosis doesn’t always mean amputation if the tumor is in the scapula. As Liam’s vet explained it:
Scapular tumors are rare but when they are identified are typically osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma or fibrosarcom … almost always cancerous but subjectively less aggressive than this type of tumor on the distal extremities. Once again location and size is key. When a scapulectomy is considered it is ideal that it involves the dorsal portion of the scapula and remains at least 3-5 cm away from the shoulder joint.
To learn if a scapulectomy surgery is right for your dog, see: