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An unsightly but effective & simple medical treatment

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The skin on Kojak’s leg wasn’t healing the way she wanted,  so Dr. Anemone Andronescu turned to an unusual method to treat the 8-year-old chow-border collie mix: leeches.

It sounds like a move pulled straight from medieval times, but leeches are used in modern veterinary medicine, particularly by reconstructive surgeons. And, in Kojak’s case, the little bloodsuckers have been highly effective at decreasing the swelling in his injured leg.

“I’ve been really pleased by the way he’s responding to the treatment,” said Andronescu, the medical director at the BluePearl Veterinary Partners hospital in Virginia Beach-Town Center. “It’s working really well.”

Kojak was brought to BluePearl because he had a cancerous tumor on his leg. After removing the tumor, Andronescu used a skin flap to cover the wound. When she noticed blood pooling underneath the flap, she put in an order for medical-grade leeches.

Kojak received his first leech treatment Saturday and has since had five additional sessions. The creepy crawlers work by sucking up the stagnant blood underneath the flap and helping to promote the flow of fresh, oxygenated blood.

Andronescu said it was her first time working with leeches, but she had heard success stories from colleagues.

Cheryl Jordana, Kojak’s owner, said she wasn’t fazed when she heard the veterinarian’s plan for treating her dog.

“We’re fine with whatever works,” Jordana said. “It’s a big area of his leg, and we just want him to get better.”

She and her husband adopted Kojak as a shy, scared 1-year-old puppy from Animal Services. She describes him now as smart and just a little spoiled. He’s much more tolerant of the leeches than other aspects of his treatment.

“He’s still stubborn,” Jordana said. “He doesn’t like taking his antibiotics.”

Click here to see photos and video of Kojak receiving leech therapy.

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