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Mar 12, 2020

When emergency veterinarian Gal Vatash, DVM, found his golden retriever, Balou, in critical condition one day, he knew exactly what he needed to do. Dr. Vatash sedated Balou, who had been diagnosed with laryngeal paralysis, put him in the car, and drove five hours to seek the help of his colleague, Ken Sadanaga, VMD, DACVS.

Drs. Vatash and Sadanaga were part of two of the earliest practices to join the Compassion-First Pet Hospitals family in 2014: East End Veterinary Center in Riverhead, New York, and VRC in Malvern, Pennsylvania, respectively. Because of the collaborative nature of the emergency and specialty hospitals that comprise the Compassion-First family, Dr. Vatash knew that Dr. Sadanaga had pioneered an innovative surgical technique to effectively treat laryngeal paralysis in dogs.

Compassion-First is deeply committed to improving patient outcomes and providing the best care in specialty and emergency medicine. Therefore, we are proud to highlight prominent doctors, staff, and community members who positively contribute to the animal industry. These actions of innovation, compassion, and quality care truly showcase the Power of Us. Among these contributors is Dr. Ken Sadanaga.

Dr. Sadanaga is one of the leading soft tissue veterinary surgeons in the Northeast, and one of the first surgeons to specialize in private practice soft tissue surgery. With more than 25 years of experience spanning the areas of surgical oncology, general surgery, plastic and reconstructive surgery, emergency surgery, neurosurgery, and select orthopedic procedures, he is considered a notable expert within the field.

After attending the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Sadanaga interned at the California Animal Hospital in Los Angeles, and completed his surgical residency at Penn. He is also a board-certified Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. In addition to his long list of achievements, skills, and recognitions, he is revered for his deep commitment to continued growth and innovation.

Dr. Sadanaga is best known for pioneering a new technique that effectively treats laryngeal paralysis in dogs—the same surgical technique that he performed on Balou. Laryngeal paralysis is a condition commonly found in older dogs that involves loss of function in the larynx. This results in difficult or labored breathing and can escalate if left untreated. Dr. Sadanaga’s technique is called bilateral vocal fold excision (mucosoplasty) and bilateral arytenoidopexy, also known as BVEAP, and it has helped Balou to be happy, healthy, and free of laryngeal paralysis.

The surgery typically performed on dogs suffering from laryngeal paralysis is a “tie-back” procedure that completely opens the lumen to allow for increased airflow. While this approach solves breathing problems in the pet, BVEAP offers advantages in areas of overall health and well-being. It addresses both the intraluminal and extraluminal contribution of laryngeal paralysis, creating a more functional airway than the “tie-back” method. During the BVEAP surgery, the compromised vocal cords are removed to open the lower intraluminal area of the larynx and the arytenoid cartilages are pexied to thyroid cartilage to address extraluminal concerns.

This arytenoidopexy opens the larynx in a more conservative, symmetrical manner, maintaining a better interface between the glottis and the epiglottis while swallowing, and therefore reducing the dog’s risk of aspiration pneumonia.

In addition, BVEAP also improves the postoperative quality of life for dogs. This specific technique allows pets to go swimming and carry on with their normal habits post-op, making recovery more enjoyable.

The benefits of the surgery are undeniable, and the effects on the medical community have been overwhelmingly positive. This innovative surgery has set a new standard for the industry, saving the lives of countless pets and leaving owners forever grateful. In fact, dog owners—including other Compassion-First Pet Hospitals veterinary professionals like Dr. Vatash—have been traveling near and far to seek the expertise of Dr. Sadanaga.

“Dr. Sadanaga and his team are the most skilled, caring, and professional individuals I have ever met in the animal industry,” said Christine, owner of Daphne, a golden retriever who suffered from laryngeal paralysis before undergoing BVEAP surgery with Dr. Sadanago. “His BVEAP surgery saved my girl, and we are eternally grateful for his incredible talent and compassion. Words can’t express how highly I recommend Dr. Sadanaga. If your dog is suffering from laryngeal paralysis, Dr. Sadanaga is the answer.”

At Compassion-First, we proudly support Dr. Sadanaga, as well as other veterinarians and their teams who are committed to advancing care and improving healthcare outcomes for pets. Being a part of Compassion-First allows for a vast network of hospitals and veterinary professionals to collaborate and share knowledge so they can become leaders and pioneers of the latest medical treatments, tools, and training. In doing so, we ensure every pet is offered the most effective care and treatment plan possible.

These medical advancements have a clear impact within our medical community, creating a better life for pets and their owners. That’s the Power of Us.


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