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Liam Runs Again After Scapulectomy Surgery Recovery

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.

Chondrosarcoma scapulectomy recovery

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:

How Scapulectomy Surgery Treats Dogs and Cats Scapula Tumors

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7 thoughts on “Liam Runs Again After Scapulectomy Surgery Recovery”

  1. Hello your story gives me hope. My 11 year old Siberian who thinks he is 6 just had this procedure done yesterday. We originally thought the tumor was not connected to bone via xrays. However when they went in to remove it they had to take 6 cm off near the very back side of the scapula from shoulder joint but still involved a good amount of muscles connections. Did you use any shoulder braces during recovery to help Liam to run again ? We are hopeful for full recovery for our pup And looking for things that worked. 🙂 Thank you

    • Hi Wendy-
      Liam had a shoulder wrap right after surgery, but that was more of a bandage than a brace. We followed our vet’s recommendations, and he never had any further issues from his shoulder. Liam passed away when he was 16 as a happy old guy, and his spirit still runs the snowy trails of my mind. Good luck with your Sibe – I am sure he will be up to his old ways soon.

  2. I don’t know how I missed this. He did great with this surgery and glad to see that he was enjoying his run

    Michelle & Angel Sassy

  3. Mom wanted to point out that Liam is certainly not running long distances with the bigger team (not just because of his surgery, but also because he is an old guy), but he is enjoying short adventures at a leisurely pace with the older dogs to keep his mind happy and his body conditioned.

    She also said that even if we did end up having to amputate the leg, he might have been able to run in harness like I did!

    Xo from Spirit Calpurnia

  4. QOW! Talk about an inspiration!! Very informative too! What a tough little doggy!

    So happy to see this unbelievably good update!!!

    Tha ks so mich!


    Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!


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