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One Health to the Rescue: Intracranial Arteriovenous Malformation in a Dog


Veterinarians and interventional radiologists in California joined forces to treat a rare intracranial arteriovenous malformation in a German shepherd.

Intracranial Arteriovenous Malformation Surgery

Two schools within the University of California, Davis network are sharing the story of a successful One Health collaboration that saved the life of a beloved pet dog.

It all began when Sally Fuess and Steve Yant from Boulder Creek, California noticed that their 6-year-old male German shepherd, Crash, was starting to tire more easily and exhibiting signs of head pain, including burying his head and squinting his eyes.

“It was like watching someone have a massive migraine and be non-functioning,” Fuess said. “The bigger the headaches, the more disoriented he would become.”


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An MRI revealved an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) located within Crash’s brain, behind his eyes. Upon diagnosis, Fuess and Yant were able to arrange a consultation with William Culp, DVM, DACVS, at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Arteriovenous Malformation in Veterinary Medicine

AVMs are abnormal collections of blood vessels in which arteries and veins communicate with each other in an incorrect manner. They are generally uncommon in veterinary medicine—and a brain AVM is extremely rare. In fact, Dr. Culp had never seen one in his career before.

In Crash’s case, the AVM was causing blood to come in through the artery and leave through the vein too quickly, bypassing brain tissue and causing swelling. As a result, the mass was producing pain and compression in his skull and causing the dog’s eyeballs to bulge abnormally.

“Because this condition occurs in human patients relatively more commonly, I was hopeful that we would be able to collaborate with physicians at UC Davis Health in order to treat Crash as successfully as possible,” Dr. Culp said.

In concert with veterinary neurosurgeon Beverly Sturges, DVM, MS, DACVIM, and interventional radiologists Brian Dahlin, MD, and Paul Dong, MD, with UC Davis Health, the group devised a treatment plan to perform an embolization that would close the blood vessels in the AVM and redirect blood flow.

Drs. Culp, Dahlin, and Dong utilized fluoroscopic angiography to guide catheters to the AVM, according to a UC Davis press release on the surgery. This allowed them to visualize a guidewire’s and catheter’s journey through the dog’s femoral artery and aorta, into his carotid artery, and finally into the AVM.

After recovering in the hospital, Crash was able to return home with Fuess and Yant. A follow-up MRI 4 months after the minimally invasive surgery revealed that the embolization was intact and Crash’s condition was improving.

“Dr. Culp and the surgery team went above and beyond in their care of Crash. They were amazing,” Fuess said.

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