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Weimaraner Up and Running After Traumatic Achilles Tendon Tear, Thanks to Arthrex Technology

For a sporting dog like a Weimaraner, it’s hard to imagine a more idyllic life than living in Stowe, Vermont where hiking, mountain biking and skiing are a way of life.

“Pearl is a fabulous dog. She is loyal, obedient and well-trained. She lives for obsessively running down the mountain in the wintertime while we ski down,” said Brendan O’Reilly, Pearl’s owner.

But one day last winter, while he and his wife Tara skiing in deep, backcountry snow, Pearl ran right in front of Brendan’s skis.

“Pearl came running out of nowhere and collided with me,” Brendan said. “My ski sliced open her leg and severed her tendon and she started bleeding heavily.”

Brendan quickly grabbed the dog and wrapped her leg with his belt to try to stop it, but he was terrified that she was going to bleed to death.

“I truly thought she was not going to make it, the pool of blood was overwhelming, and we were a mile up from our truck,” he said.Tara went ahead to get the truck and Brandon scooped Pearl up and skied down with her. When he got to the bottom, they wrapped her leg in a towel and duct tape and took off for the vet.

The emergency vet bandaged Pearl’s leg started an IV to stabilize her, but then they were faced with a race against the clock to save her leg.

“Pearl’s Achilles tendon was completely ruptured,” said Kurt S. Schulz, DVM, DACVS (Williston, VT). “This injury can be devastating to an active dog. Infections are common and dogs can lose their leg.”

Dr. Schulz says he sees cases like Pearl’s every winter. So, working together, he and Arthrex developed a technique to repair the Achilles using Arthrex’s FiberLoop® suture and suture buttons to secure the Achilles either to the boneor back to the Achilles itself, depending on the injury. In Pearl’s case, it was a mid-body Achilles rupture, so he secured it back to the tendon. Then, Dr. Schulz used autologous conditioned plasma (ACP®) to help the tendon heal.

“We’ve done about 30 of these cases in my practice and to date, the only complication has been infection, which we’ve successfully treated,” Dr. Schulz said. “But these tend to be athlete dogs, so it’s vital that we restrict their activity while they heal so the repair doesn’t break down.”

Pearl started out in a cast and once it was removed, Brendan and his family immediately started the process of rehabbing her leg.

“We slowly increased her walking on a leash and then we would work on flexing and stretching her leg at night,” Brendan said.After about six months of diligent work to regain mobility and keep infection at bay, today, Pearl is back to running free and even accompanying her family while skiing again.

“Pearl is doing great,” Brendan said. “We have her back to herself again. Running, hunting and doing what she does best – loving life.”

And that, Dr. Schulz said, is exactly why he is so passionate about what he does.

“It’s so rewarding to get these athlete dogs back to what they love,” he said. “Every day we strive to return a healthy and happy pet to their family.”