Unconventional leech treatment saves Queen of Clean's cat

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PHOENIX -- We normally see Queen of Clean Linda Cobb giving cleaning tips and advice. When she ran into a problem of her own -- actually it involved Finnigan, a four-legged member of her family -- she turned to an expert who was willing to try something a little unusual.

As Scott Pasmore explains, Dr. Ross Lirtzman of Animal Specialty Group of Scottsdale used leeches -- something he'd never done before --  to help save Finn's paw.

“As soon as Finnigan heard my voice, we heard this sound I will never forget,” the Queen of Clean said.

A cry of pain is what the queen heard coming from her 6 month-old cat Finnigan.

“It was wrapped probably seven times,” the queen continued.

A toy similar to this one is what the queen found wrapped around Finnigan's right foot. It had not only cut off circulation, but his leg was broken as well.

“My main concern was that he was going to lose the paw because we don't know how long he had been without circulation,” the queen said.

To help Finnigan, the queen headed to the Animal Specialty Group of Scottsdale.
“I think before we planned to operate our immediate concern had to do with the viability, survivability of the foot,” Dr. Ross Lirtzman said.

Lirtzman thought in order to restore circulation back to Finnigan's foot he wanted to try something he's never done before on any of his four-legged patients.

“Our plan was to try to remove some of his congestion that was in the foot by using medicinal leeches before fixing the fracture,” Lirtzman said.

You heard that right, leeches. It's something more commonly used to heal people's wounds and restore circulation in blocked blood veins
“By withdrawing the fluids and decreasing pressure within the foot, it allows those venous channels to open up by providing the fixation,” the doctor continued. “So it's no longer unstable and the cat begins to do some weight bearing.”

Lirtzman did two leeching procedures. They took five minutes each and the results were immediate.

“Toe swelling was reduced to normal, warmth of the foot had returned, color of the nail beds was normal,” Lirtzman said. “I saw a massive turn around which then at that point allowed us to operate.”

Finnigan is definitely a happier cat these days. Not only was his foot saved, but his leg is healing nicely. As for the queen she's just glad the doctor was thinking outside of the box.

“It's a great thing for people to see and know that there is help out there for the really unusual problems,” the queen said.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to try something new,” Lirtzman said. “I think we continue to innovate not just in treatments and procedures like this, but also in terms of implants.”

For more information on Dr. Ross Lirtzman, go to Animal Specialty Group of Scottsdale.