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Cocker Spaniel pup Ariel triumphs over rare congenital abnormality after specialist surgery

Surgeon Aaron and vet nurse Ashleigh with Ariel

Surgeon Aaron Lutchman and vet nurse Ashleigh with Ariel Langford Vets

Ariel CT scan

Ariel's CT scanGreenacres Rescue

Cocker Spaniel pup Ariel

Ariel before discharge dayGreenacres Rescue

Press release issued: 23 January 2024

Ariel, a five-month-old Cocker Spaniel, who had two extra limbs that resembled a mermaid’s tail has had successful specialist surgery carried out by a multidisciplinary team at the University of Bristol’s Langford Vets.

After being abandoned at 11 weeks of age, Ariel was taken in by Greenacres Rescue. Initial examinations and investigations by Fenton Vets and the SMART clinic found that she had two additional limbs fused together and an extra vulva.

Ariel was first referred to Langford Vets Small Animal Hospital in November 2023 for a CT scan and retrograde fluoroscopy, which revealed the full extent of the issue. The right hemipelvis was duplicated giving an additional large socket in the pelvis known as the “acetabulum”. The abnormal two extra hindlimbs, which were mirror images of each other and partially fused together, formed a joint with this large acetabulum. Fortunately, Ariel then had a right hindlimb which was relatively normal skeletally, just missing several muscles so specialists aimed to preserve this leg. The main right external iliac blood supply was also duplicated so each limb had a separate artery supply and vein drainage.

Finally, Ariel had a blind right uterine horn and her right kidney was absent. These changes were considered similar to Herlyn-Werner-Wunderlich syndrome in people, an extremely rare congenital anomaly. Her second vulva was not connected to any internal reproductive organs.

Although Ariel was initially referred to one of Langford Vets orthopaedic specialists, due to the multiple complex abnormalities, other specialists from the soft tissue surgery, radiology and anaesthesia teams were also involved in creating her tailored treatment plan.

Earlier this month, Ariel had surgery to remove her ovaries. Once she had recovered from this surgery, the soft tissue surgery team consisting of specialist surgeon Ed Friend and resident Aaron Lutchman operated to remove her additional limbs. Great care was taken not to damage any of the nerves or blood vessels to the right hindlimb that was being preserved to ensure this remained as functional as possible. Ariel will need a prolonged period of physiotherapy to try to build up muscle mass on her remaining right hindlimb to compensate for the missing muscles but is already exceeding expectations.

Vicki Black, Hospital Director, said: "Ariel was a complicated little dog whose care required close collaboration across several of our specialist led teams including orthopaedics, soft tissue surgery, anaesthesia and radiology. We are delighted such a lovely dog has recovered from her surgery well.

"As a centre committed to career long learning we are proud to innovate and treat pets like Ariel. Ariel deservedly has many devoted supporters; it was a great pleasure to treat her and work with Greenacres Rescue."

Ariel benefitted from a large team of multiple specialists at Langford Vets to ensure all aspects of her multidisciplinary care were considered carefully together.

During her stay, Ariel was cared for by undergraduate veterinary and veterinary nurse students, through to interns and residents up to specialist vets and nurses. The team are really pleased with how Ariel has recovered so far, and her great positive attitude, and they are sure she will have a bright future ahead when she finds her forever home.

Further information

About Langford Vets
As an educational veterinary group, with a not-for-profit owner (University of Bristol), Langford Vets are proud to provide your pet with a superior quality of care through our extensive range of specialist capabilities. We have the largest team of American and European Specialists in the Southwest of England. We are members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Practice Standards Scheme.

For more info:

Study at Bristol Veterinary School
The University of Bristol Veterinary School offers a range of undergraduate courses including:

In addition, they also offer a number of postgraduate courses including:

Based at Bristol's Langford Campus, Bristol Veterinary School boasts first-class clinical facilities and encompasses a small animal hospital, a dairy farm, diagnostic laboratories, and farm animal, small animal and equine practices.

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