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image of xray and sammy the terrier after surgery

Dog gets second chance at life after vets place titanium plate in her head

Meet Sammy — the titanium terrier. 

The 10-year-old rescue dog’s life was in the balance when specialist vets removed a tumour next to her brain. 

But she’s now back to her old self after they replaced parts of her skull with a state-of-the-art titanium mesh plate. 

The incredible operation was carried out at Hamilton Specialist Referrals in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. 

Owner Judy Horsford, from London, first became concerned when Sammy started losing her balance and tilting her head to one side. 

“We took her to our vet who tried anti-inflammatory drugs, but she then had a big seizure which was very scary,” said Judy. “I’m a nurse and my daughter’s a doctor and we thought it might be a general deterioration of something in her head.  

sammy with his bandages

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“Then, while we were waiting for the results of tests, we spotted a large lump on her head which we hadn’t noticed before. It was a real shock and when she had scans that showed how massive the tumour was, it was really worrying. 

“She was put on steroids, but we felt she must be really suffering and if something wasn’t done then she wasn’t going to last very long at all. We had to give her a chance.” 

Sammy was referred to Hamilton Specialist Referrals, part of My Family Vets, for surgery on the uncommon, slow-growing bone tumour.  

“The CT scan showed a large growth protruding deep into the skull and compressing large areas of Sammy’s brain,” said vet Pete Smith, a specialist in veterinary neurology. 

“The surgery was complex, and we had to remove much of the side and back of her skull. Once removed, the brain was no longer compressed, but she would have been left with a very abnormal shape to her head and at risk of being injured by relatively minor incidents. 

“So, to solve this we used the titanium mesh to protect the brain and allow the tissues to be reconstructed.” 

xray with titanium plate in head

Titanium mesh is often used to repair cranial defects in humans because of its low infection rate, high strength, and affordability.  

Studies show it also offers better brain protection and can lower the likelihood of a patient needing additional surgery.  

Remarkably, Sammy was eating the morning after her operation and recovered so well she was allowed home three days later. 

Having feared she might lose her dog, Judy was thrilled to be able to go and pick Sammy up. 

“We were really careful at first and slept downstairs to be there for her,” said Judy. “But her recovery really was beyond belief, and she was soon tearing around so much she actually injured a ligament in her hind leg, which is thankfully healing.  

“You wouldn’t know what she has been through or even that she has this titanium plate. 

“We will be forever grateful to the team at Hamilton’s for giving Sammy her life back. Every day with her is a bonus and she is certainly making the most of it.”   

Hamilton Specialist Referrals is part of My Family Vets, a nationwide network of veterinary practices and referral hospitals. 

Pets needing highly-specialised care, such as orthopaedic surgery, oncology or neurosurgery, are referred to Hamilton’s by their daytime vet. 

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