at a Cure
Dr. Tom Hemstreet at LakeCross Veterinary has always had a special interest in feline hyperthyroid disease.
24 LAKE NORMAN CURRENTS
LakeCross Veterinary’s state-of-the-art treatment targets feline hyperthyroid disease t’s a condition that affects one in 10 geriatric cats. Feline hyperthyroidism results from increased blood concentrations of thyroid hormone (T4) produced by tumors of the thyroid gland (goiters). This leads to heart, liver and kidney failure if left untreated. Signs that owners may recognize would be rapid heart rates, excessive thirst and hunger, vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss. While there are several treatment options for this disease, they can be costly and may or may not fully resolve the disease. One innovative form of treatment exists in
the Lake Norman area at the T4Paw Feline Hyperthyroid Treatment Center, which has treated more than 2,000 cats to date, some traveling from out of state with their owners.
Creating a clinic
Opening the facility was not a quick and easy task. Dr. Tom Hemstreet, a veterinarian and co-founder of LakeCross Veterinary in Huntersville, has always had a special interest in feline hyperthyroid disease and wanted to be able to offer a special radioactive iodine therapy for it when they first opened the practice in 1998. There are no training programs specific for feline
thyroid disease. Hemstreet took a nuclear medicine sabbatical and worked with the faculty of the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine to create a program that would satisfy the requirements necessary for a radioactive materials license from the State of North Carolina Division of Radiation Protection. It took three years to obtain the necessary building code variances and construct the 400-square-foot facility on the LakeCross Veterinary campus that would eventually become T4 Paws.
An innovative therapy
Treatment options for feline
by Renee Roberson photography by Patrick Schneider
hyperthyroidism include surgery to remove the tumors on the thyroid gland, or managing the disease through medication and diet. But all these options can be costly and may or may not be successful. Hemstreet points out that putting an aging cat with an already increased heart rate under anesthesia for surgery can be risky. T4 Paws delivers one shot with a very small dose of radioactive iodine, which permanently decreases the high thyroid hormone levels in 98 percent of treated cats without affecting any other cells of the body. Cats are dropped off for the treatment on a Tuesday,