On location for pets

On location for pets

New linear accelerator offers human therapies for pets

By Sarah Carey

The UF Veterinary Hospitals marked a milestone in March when the first patients were treated with radiation therapy provided via a new linear accelerator that was installed in the hospital when it opened last November.

The first patient treated, Cappie Isaacs, an 8-year-old toy poodle, was discharged March 24 after receiving three-and-a-half weeks of radiation therapy to treat a sarcoma in his wrist bone. Cappie had previously received surgery to remove the sarcoma, but the entire tumor was unable to be removed.

“The goal of the radiation therapy is to kill any remaining cancer cells, and we are hopeful that this will allow us to save Cappie’s leg,” said Shannon Parfitt, D.V.M., a UF veterinary oncology resident.

Cappie is owned by sisters Georgeanne Yesbeck and Myrtle Isaacs, who live at The Villages.

Yesbeck said Cappie had been a member of her family since December 2002, when he was about 6 months old.

“Our LINAC is state-of-the-art and has a CT scanner on board,” said Jim Farese, D.V.M., chief of the veterinary oncology service. “This on-board imaging allows us to position the area that needs to be treated under the beam with superior accuracy, and illustrates the power of this particular machine.”

UF is the only facility in this part of the country capable of offering such sophisticated image-guided radiotherapy, Farese said.

The linear accelerator also allows UF veterinarians to offer on-site stereotactic radiosurgery, which involves delivering a large dose of radiation with pinpoint accuracy. These treatments have been offered for the past decade through a partnership with the College of Medicine department of neurosurgery, with the treatment performed at Shands at UF.

“Through our link with Dr. Frank Bova’s group, we are able to offer cutting-edge radiation treatment options that one would only find at a human hospital, and do so right here at the vet school,” Farese said.