The amazing story of Rori and her lung tumor

In June 2016, Rori, a 12 year old Westie, had visited the emergency hospital because she wasn’t feeling well. She was depressed and coughing.

Chest X-rays revealed a mass in her left lung. She did well for a few months, until her next set of X-rays in February 2017.

They revealed that the mass almost doubled in size (the round mass is at the end of the arrow on the X-ray below)!

Because of the high risk of lung cancer, surgery was recommended to remove the part of the lung that contained the tumor.

The odds were definitely against us: about 85% of lung tumors are cancerous. In addition, lung cancer is aggressive: the average survival after surgery alone is around 1 year. Lastly, a tumor that doubles in size in a few months is a definite concern.

Despite the odds, Rori’s owner wanted to provide the best possible quality of life for her dog and elected to move on with surgery.

To remove the tumor, we don’t “crack the ribs” like they say on TV. Rather, we go between 2 ribs. After entering the chest, the mass was found exactly where the X-rays showed. The mass was approximately the size of a nickel (the coin shown below is a quarter).

Below is a video during surgery. Warning !!!

THIS VIDEO IS VERY GRAPHIC, SO IT IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART !!!

Rori video

 

That part of the lung (called a lung lobe) was sutured and removed. We did not see any other problem, so the chest was sutured closed.

The mass is visible on top of a lung lobe

 

The evening of the surgery, Rori ate her first meal !

The next day, she felt much better and was amazingly comfortable. She eventually went home.

A few days later, the biopsy report came back.

Despite the very high odds of cancer, unbelievably, the mass was… benign!

This was fantastic news. It meant that the mass should not affect Rori’s lifespan at all.

Few pet owners would have put their 12 year old dog through open chest surgery, knowing the risk of cancer was so high. But Rori’s owner chose surgery… and was rewarded in an unexpected way.

 

APRIL 2017 UPDATE:

It’s been 6 weeks since surgery, and Rori is doing very well during her recovery.

I explained to her owner how to slowly increase her activity level over the next month.

Both are thrilled with the idea!

An early spay could save your pet from emergency surgery

Dakota, a 7-year-old female Boxer, was brought to her family vet because she hadn’t been acting herself for about two weeks. She was drinking more, eating less, and seemed weak.

X-rays revealed that Dakota had a very large uterus. Her classic symptoms and the X-rays confirmed that Dakota had a pyometra. This means that her uterus was filled with a large amount of pus.

This can be deadly.

Emergency surgery was performed that same evening at Brodheadsville Veterinary Clinic. Removing a pyometra is essentially a complicated spay procedure. The main difference is that the uterus is huge and filled with infected fluid. Care must be taken to remove the infected uterus without any spillage to the rest of the belly. After surgery, the uterus weighed in at 7 pounds.

You can see a video of part of the surgery below. Just know that it contains graphic footage of a surgical procedure, so if you’re sensitive to that you may want to skip the video.

Dakota recovered quickly from surgery and anesthesia, and started eating and drinking normally shortly after that. She was back to her lovable self in one week.

Spaying your pets is essential! If you spay your cat or dog at an early age, you help reduce the risk of uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, and pyometra. Plus, spaying your pet before the first heat cycle virtually eliminates the risk of mammary tumors (including breast cancer).

If you are not planning to breed your female pet, please plan to have her spayed before she ends up in a life-threatening situation!

Dakota’s uterus during surgery.

A post-op picture of the removed uterus.

The X-ray showing an abnormally large uterus.

Senior kitty struggles at the litter box

Phantom is an 11-year-old cat. 9 years ago, he was struggling to urinate. After several episodes of urinary blockage, which prevented him from peeing, he had a perineal urethrostomy, or P/U, to widen the opening of his urethra.

Over time, he has a few more episodes of blockage. The previous P/U site had scarred down and was so tiny that he couldn’t urinate at all.

I was called to perform surgery to allow him to urinate again.

I recommended performing a prepubic urethrostomy at Animal Clinic of Morris Plains. This is a procedure done inside the belly. The urethra is cut off and rerouted to the skin of the belly. A new opening is created, which means that Phantom will pee like a male dog.

Phantom urinated nicely overnight and went home the next day.

In the right hands, a perineal urethrostomy is a life-saving and reliable surgery. Even if it fails, which should be very rare, there is hope. Please don’t euthanize your cat if you end up in this situation. Sometimes the initial surgery may be repairable. If not, a prepubic urethrostomy is a great option to help your cat!

Chow needs surgery to fix mysterious swelling

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Photo courtesy of MHNG Photography.

Maxwell, a three-year-old male Chow, was relinquished from a home where he spent most of his time in a cage in a dark basement. After his rescue, he spent some time with a foster family, then was recently adopted by his forever family.

His new owner noticed a swelling on Maxwell’s cheek and took him to his family veterinarian. The vet was able to feel a firm swelling on the right side of the head, behind the angle of the jaw. In that area, any swelling should be suspicious for an enlarged lymph node. This can be a sign of a type of cancer called lymphoma.

The vet performed a needle aspirate, which thankfully confirmed a sialocele, a pocket of thick saliva. We typically never find out the reason for this condition. It’s assumed to be caused by trauma or blockage of the tiny canal that carries saliva from the salivary gland to the mouth.

The sialocele was carefully removed at HanoverView Animal Hospital. It’s a delicate surgery, because a sialocele is a very fragile structure that can tear easily. In addition, there are several important blood vessels and nerves in that area. Maxwell did very well under anesthesia and during recovery.

A week later, the biopsy confirmed a benign sialocele. Removing it will have no consequences for Maxwell because there are many salivary glands.

It is very important to pet your dog or cat thoroughly and regularly so you can notice any new lump or bump.  Maxwell is a furry dog with a thick coat, and he is lucky his owner felt the swelling.

Any swelling or lump should be investigated by your family vet as soon as you notice it. Three important questions should be answered: should the mass be tested, removed and biopsied?

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Can you spot the swelling?

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There area within the red circle is the problem area.

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The mass was three times larger initially, but reduced in size after the saliva and several smaller brown masses (also pictured) were removed.

Bulldog loses a toe

rocky-faceRocky, a nine-year-old Bulldog, developed a large mass on one of his toes.

It grew to a point that it was difficult to remove and close the skin without sacrificing a toe. In addition, we needed to remove enough tissue around the tumor to “get it all.” I amputated the mass along with the toe at Barton Heights Veterinary Hospital.

About a week later, the biopsy came back… benign! The mass was a nevus – a rather unusual diagnosis in a pet. Rocky recovered very well and was soon walking normally.

Losing a toe may sound terrible, but dogs adjust very nicely!

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