Soft tissue specialists at a top West Midlands veterinary centre displayed their expert keyhole surgery skills when carrying out a lifesaving procedure on a beloved pet labrador. 

Eleven-year-old Oreo was referred to Willows Veterinary and Referral Service in Solihull for treatment of an adrenal mass, with the Linnaeus-owned small animal hospital one of just a few across the UK able to carry out the highly complex keyhole procedure used to remove the tumour. 

The successful operation was led by Erika Villedieu, EBVS® European Specialist in Small Animal Surgery, and Will Robinson, EBVS® European Specialist and RCVS Specialist in Small Animal Surgery, while anaesthetic was monitored by Willows’ specialist-led anaesthesia team in a truly multi-disciplinary approach. 

Initially, Oreo had been referred to Willows for treatment after the adrenal mass was picked up incidentally during an ultrasound, after his owners noticed he was getting tired before eventually collapsing. 

Following his referral, swift action was required as a CT scan showed the mass was invading into a nearby blood vessel, and Oreo’s blood pressure was also increasing. 

Due to the size and location of the mass, along with Oreo’s advancing years, the team at Willows decided a keyhole procedure was the best course of action rather than a more intrusive operation.

Erika explained: “The advanced surgery involved four small incisions, 1-2cm long, on the side of Oreo’s abdomen to allow passage of a camera and three instruments. 

“The mass could be successfully removed through the keyhole approach, avoiding a large incision into the abdomen as is normal for standard surgery.” 

Such was the success of the operation that Oreo was able to return home to his grateful owners the day after surgery. He has been recovering well and been able to enjoy short walks with his brother, Crumble.

Oreo’s owner Marie Herbert White, who lives near Evesham in Worcestershire, and recently lost another of her much-loved labradors to cancer, said: “Oreo has been part of our family since he was seven weeks old. 

“Given his age and the location of the mass, we weren’t sure we wanted to put him through an operation. If keyhole hadn’t been an option, I’m not sure we would have gone ahead.” 

Erika added: “We are delighted the procedure was a success and that Oreo is making a speedy recovery at home with his brother.” 

Willows offers specialist services in anaesthesia and analgesia, cardiology, clinical nutrition, dermatology, diagnostic imaging, emergency and critical care, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, orthopaedics, soft tissue surgery and spinal surgery. 

To find out more about Willows’ wide range of specialist services, visit or search for Willows Veterinary Centre on social media. 

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