Referral-only veterinary clinic can treat sick cats with radioactivity

Laura Bahorich examines a feline patient. Courtesy photo.


Dr. Laura Bahorich of Memphis Veterinary Specialists (MVS) has been dosing felines with radioactive isotopes, but with good reason: It is the only cure for feline-hyperthyroidism: a progressive, severely debilitating and potentially fatal disease, which was unknown prior to 1979.

It is postulated that feline-hyperthyroidism may be caused by “triggers,” including endocrine disruptors, such as polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE), which is used as a flame retardant on household goods, and cat food packaging with metallic peel-off cans. Use of these household compounds increased around the same time that the disease first appeared.

Dr. Laura Bahorich states that “the exact cause of feline-hyperthyroidism remains unknown.” What is known is that there is only one cure, and that involves injecting affected cats with radioactive iodine — something that cannot be done by an average veterinary practice. MVS, however, is not average.

Bahorich is licensed to perform radioactive iodine treatment (I-131). This therapy only destroys abnormal thyroid tissue, while preserving normal thyroid function. Patients receive a one-time injection which the body absorbs quickly. Cats receiving this treatment are typically hospitalized for 48 hours after treatment to safeguard against human exposure to radioactivity. More than 90 percent of hyperthyroid cats are cured with a single injection of the radioactive iodine treatment; cats that maintain high thyroid hormone levels post-treatment (fewer than 10 percent) may be candidates for a second I-131 injection.

There are other palliative treatments for feline-hyperthyroidism, involving diet and/or medication, offered by many regular veterinary offices, but these treatments do not cure the disease; they can even place a greater strain on the diseased cats and their owners. Try catching a cat to give it medicine two to three times a day for the rest of its life, and see how affectionate it remains. That is why it is important to share information about the cure that exists at MVS: Radioactive Iodine Treatment (I-131).

The cost of any dietary or medicinal treatments prescribed to manage feline-hyperthyroidism also costs more over time than the one-time procedure that cures the disease.

Owners of cats who have been diagnosed with the disease can ask their veterinarian for a referral to MVS to receive the cure. More information about feline-hyperthyroidism, and I-131 may be found at

About Memphis Veterinary Specialists

MVS is at 555 Trinity Creek Cove in Cordova. as a referral-based practice, MVS works with primary care veterinarians to provide services not typically found outside veterinary teaching hospitals. Pet owners cannot simply call and make an appointment. Instead, their general practice veterinarian must refer them to MVS.

MVS was founded quietly about 20 years ago by the former head of the surgical faculty at Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Though it has grown to be one the nation’s leading private Veterinary Specialty Hospitals, MVS remains a relatively well kept secret, at least locally. It is one of the few non-university hospitals in the U.S. where veterinary school graduates may apply to continue training in an accredited residency program. New graduates use such practices to complete the additional three to four years of training required to earn designation as a specialist in a chosen field of veterinary medicine.

MVS is home to the Mid-South’s only board-certified veterinary specialists in oncology, ophthalmology, dermatology, radiology, internal medicine, dentistry and oral surgery, and it also offers the services of three board-certified surgeons (offering neurologic, orthopedic and soft-tissue surgeries).

MVS does not offer vaccines, flea prevention, or wellness exams; it does offer advanced treatment options, including the services of some of the nation’s leading Specialists in areas such as:

  • Diagnostic imaging (MVS offers the only CT scans for animals in West Tennessee, as well as the most advanced options in sonograms)
  • 3 board-certified surgeons (offering neurologic, orthopedic, and soft-tissue surgeries)
  • A board-certified dermatologist
  • 2 board-certified ophthalmologists (one of whom, Dr. Bill Miller, serves on the board of the certifying organization, the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmology, and founded ACVO’s national Free Eye-Exams for Service Dogs Program)
  • A board-certified oncologist
  • 2 board-certified specialists in internal medicine
  • A board-certified oral surgeon (Dr. Barden Greenfield is one of only 45 veterinary dental practitioners world-wide to ever  be named a Fellow of the Academy of Veterinary Dentistry, and has served as president of board-certifying Diplomates of the American Veterinary Dentistry College)
  • A board-certified radiologist, with the region’s only advanced imaging systems for animals in the region (CT, sonogram, etc.)
  • 6 other DVMs whose sole focus is serving as hospitalists and ER doctors (doctors present 24 hours a day)
  • A number of DVMs serving their residencies to complete the additional requirements mandated for certification as specialists in their field of study

MVS’ staff of board-certified veterinarians treat patients referred by general practice veterinarians from throughout Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana, as well as Tennessee.

Each year, the doctors at MVS offer all Mid-South general practice veterinarians and veterinary technicians a series of continuing education courses, which are required by state licensing boards and can only be taught by Specialists.

The MVS facility also houses an emergency hospital staffed by Doctors offering treatment 24 hours a day. You must be referred by your primary care veterinarian to see one of the Specialists at MVS, but the Emergency Hospital is available to everyone 24/7.

When the entire population of penguins at the Memphis Zoo suffered an epidemic that threatened them with certain blindness, MVS’ ophthalmologist stepped in to successfully save their sight. Recently when another zoo resident, a baby primate, required advanced imaging he was brought to MVS for consultation with MVS’ radiologist and ophthalmologist. There are hundreds of unusual stories involving miracle cures for diseases faced by animals to which MVS doctors are central … one of which is the cure for feline-hyperthyroidism: Radioactive Iodine Treatment (I-131).