Transitional cell carcinoma (TCC) is a common cancer in dogs, and affects the urinary bladder and / or urethra. Common clinical signs include blood in the urine or straining to urinate. Tumors are often large by the time these problems are noted. Although some dogs may be palliated with medical therapies, surgical removal of these tumors is rarely helpful.
Ultrasonographic images of a TCC within the urinary bladder
Recently, laser ablation of TCC has emerged as a useful therapy. This is not curative, but improves patient comfort and prolongs survival time. Here at Texas A&M, we perform laser ablation through a cystoscope, with ultrasound guidance. This does not require surgery and recovery time after the procedure is very short. We can even use this method in dogs who are unable to urinate due to obstruction from a TCC.
Ultrasound-guided laser ablation procedure; one veterinaran visualizes the TCC through the cystoscope whilst a second veterinarian watches with ultrasound
The TCC is burned with the targeted laser beam. The treated tissue is blanched as it dies and will be passed in the urine over the next few days. Most dogs are able to go home the day after the procedure. If there is extensive urethral involvement, the dog may need to be hospitalized with a urinary catheter for a few days.
Cystoscopic images of the TCC during laser ablation. In the picture on the left, a fragment of lasered tissue is seen hanging from the bladder wall. The tip of the laser is seen in the picture on the right.