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Using a Prototype Device to Deliver Pain Medications for Dogs with Cancer

 

Some dogs with cancer, especially end-stage cancer patients or patients with dermatitis as the results of radiation therapy, experience pain that cannot be adequately controlled with oral medications given by their owners at home. Depending on the site of pain, an injection into the spine, called an epidural injection, can provide pain relief superior to oral medications, sometimes with fewer side effects. The duration of pain relief is variable but may last several weeks, however, repeating the injection requires heavy sedation or general anesthesia each time, and this puts the dog at risk for anesthetic complications, is time consuming, and can be prohibitively expensive. The Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine Service at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals (CUHA) is currently investigating a prototype device that consists of an epidural catheter connected to an access port that is implanted under the skin over a dog’s back under brief general anesthesia. Pain relieving drugs can then be injected through the port and catheter into the epidural space into the spine as frequently as necessary to provide pain relief without the need for anesthesia and its risks and costs. The device can then be removed if it is no longer needed.

ELIGIBILITY: Any dog suffering from pain due to cancer that is not adequately controlled using oral medications administered at home may be eligible. Dogs that are currently hospitalized at CUHA for cancer treatment may also be eligible. Other patients with conditions causing chronic pain may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

COMPENSATION: Owners are responsible for all of the costs associated with the device including its implantation and follow-up visits. The first three owners will have part of the costs covered through funding from the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management’s Research and Scholarship Foundation. For participation, all owners will receive a discount on certain items on their bill for the charges associated with the device and follow-up visits.

OWNER RESPONSIBILITIES: The owner will be asked to fill out a simple, brief online questionnaire about their dog’s pain before the device is implanted, when the first dose of drugs is given, and at regular intervals thereafter. Owners can return to CUHA for additional injections as often as necessary to control their dog’s pain. If the dog is hospitalized at CUHA, the oncologist referring the case and/or Dr. Boesch will determine how often the drugs should be given.

CONTACT/SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT: Please call the clinical research coordinator at 607-253-3060, or email vet-research@cornell.edu

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