Braveheart Fifi

Fifi is an adorable little Shih-Tzu who, even at a young age, has been through a lot. She is not even a year old yet and has already had 3 general anaesthetics to treat her poorly eye.

Fifi was born with a very short nose, slightly protruding eyes and lots of fluffy hair. This of course, is all part of being a pedigree Shih-Tzu. Unfortunately though, this means that her eyes are more vulnerable to injury or disease.

When Fifi was brought in to see the vet for a watery and painful eye at the end of December, she was found to have a very painful ulcer on her eye, possibly caused by the irritation of her hair around that area.

When it comes to treatment for eyes, you really cannot do too much. Fifi was immediately placed onto some eye drops for any infection and some pain relief to see if this would be enough to help. Unfortunately, when she came back 2 weeks later, the ulcer had actually got worse and so Fifi needed surgery, which would then allow the eye to heal.

The ulcer was formed on the surface of the eye and this is an area of the body that does not have a good blood supply. A good blood supply is essential for healing and so, as there was no blood supply to the ulcer, we had to provide one! This is done by taking a part of the conjunctiva, or the pink membrane on the inside of the eyelids and making it into a graft, which is stitched onto the cornea. While this looks a little grisly, it actually brings essential blood vessels into direct contact with the ulcer and allows the body to heal it properly.

What was even more worrying was, that Fifi needed this surgery on both of her eyes. The scary thing for Fifi and her owners was, if it didn’t go well, she could lose not just her sight but the eye itself. Fifi would be blind!

The surgery went well. The grafts were carefully stitched into place by vet Ian and although this was very fiddly surgery, he was very pleased with the finished result.

Fifi had the hair around her eyes shaved right back while she was ‘asleep’, to prevent any hair from interfering with the eye’s surface and she was fitted with a big lampshade collar, to prevent her from rubbing the eye. Any interference by Fifi when she got home at this point could prove disastrous.

The sites of the grafts were very delicate and so Fifi’s owners had to be careful when putting in her eye drops, that they did not touch around her eyes and dislodge either of them.

About a week later, we were able to remove the graft on the right eye. Fifi was now becoming a firm favourite with the staff here, as she was always so happy despite being in, what must have been, a fair amount of discomfort!

While she was ‘asleep’, Ian checked the left eye and decided to leave the graft attached for longer. The ulcer had been deeper and more invasive on this side. After the surgery, Fifi was very happy to have one of her eyes a little clearer!

There were a few more weeks of eye drops and painkillers at home and really quite intensive care from her owners. Eventually, Fifi came in for her last general anaesthetic in the middle of January, almost a month after her first operation, to have the graft on her left eye removed.

Ian was very happy with her progress and satisfied with the healing of both of her eyes. Thankfully this was caught early enough to do something about it! There is still a possibility that she may need surgery in the future to repair the conformational issues that cause these problems for her ( in-growing eyelashes and folds of skin along the nose) but for now she seems fine.

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