Innovative cancer care at Southfields

February 8, 2019

Southfields Veterinary Specialists, in Essex, combined its highly-skilled specialist staff and state-of-the-art equipment to carry out intra-arterial chemotherapy and embolisation of liver cancer in a dog.

Bertie, an eight-year-old Sherpei, is now making an excellent recovery from his treatment, which has been hailed as a shining example of a truly multi-disciplinary approach and teamwork – both within Southfields and alongside its Linnaeus Group sister practice North Downs Specialist Referrals (NDSR), in Bletchingley, Surrey.

Following Bertie’s diagnosis of liver cancer, an initial assessment by Southfields’ Clinical Director Henry L’Eplattenier deemed the tumour inoperable.

Treatment options were discussed between Southfields’ Internal Medicine Clinician Jen Raj and Aaron Harper, RCVS and EBVS European Veterinary Specialist in Small Animal Oncology, before it was decided to proceed with intra-arterial chemoembolisation.

To ensure Bertie was provided with the best possible care during a complicated and highly-specialised procedure, multi-disciplinary meetings took place to ensure the most suitable treatment path was developed by the Southfields team.

During investigations and treatment, seven specialists and 12 veterinary professionals were involved from a range of disciplines.

The procedure was carried out by two cardiologist/cardiovascular interventionalists – Southfields’ RCVS Recognised Specialist in Veterinary Cardiology and EBVS European Veterinary Specialist in Small Animal Medicine and Head of Cardiology and Cardiopulmonary Service Domingo Casamian-Sorrosal and RCVS and EBVS European Veterinary Specialist in Small Animal Cardiology, Joel Silva.

To carry out the procedure, the team accessed Bertie’s femoral artery, exposed by a small incision, before inserting a catheter. With the aid of Southfields’ hi-tech fluoroscopy, the surgical team then guided the tiny wires and catheters through the dog’s arterial system to reach the vessel supplying blood directly to the tumour.

Special beads and chemotherapy, prepared by the Southfields oncology team, were then injected directly into the tumour, causing occlusion of the arteries supplying the tumour and resulting in the death of the cancer cells.

By injecting the chemotherapy treatment directly into the tumour, the rest of the body is spared from the deleterious effects of wider chemotherapy.

Southfields operations manager Daniel Hogan said: “This was a very exciting, new procedure for us and its successful outcome was an impressive combination of significant teamwork and skill of the highest level, working with our state-of-the-art equipment.

“Our patients’ needs are always at the heart of everything we do, so there were a lot of discussions about the best way to proceed in order to deliver the highest quality care in this case.”

Domingo said: “Following our careful study of the case and Bertie’s arterial tree, we planned a clear treatment path. From the day Bertie came to us for specialist care and throughout the operation, there were 12 veterinary professionals from a range of disciplines, including nursing, anaesthesia and assistant teams, ensuring Bertie received the best possible care and that the all-important processes and procedures are followed.

“Liver tumours are primarily fed by arteries which carry the oxygen and nutrients needed for the tumour to grow. By being able to block the arterial supply to the tumour we aim to kill many of the cancer cells. The chemotherapy delivered with the embolic material will further target those cancer cells.”

Jen said: “All that careful planning and expertise throughout the operation certainly proved worthwhile. Everything went very well and, happily, Bertie is now making a great recovery at home with his grateful owners.”

Southfields, which offers some of the most advanced interventional radiology services in the country, is part of the Linnaeus Group, which boasts more than 120 veterinary practices across the UK.

To find out more about the Linnaeus Group, visit