Dr. Phil Zeltzman’s Blog
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 !!!
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 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!
Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a traveling veterinary surgeon in Pennsylvania & New Jersey. An award-winning author, he loves to share his adventures in practice along with information about vet medicine and surgery that can really help your pets. Dr. Zeltzman specializes in orthopedic, neurologic, cancer, and soft tissue surgeries for dogs, cats, and small exotics. By working with local family vets, he offers the best surgical care, safest anesthesia, and utmost pain management to all his patients. Sign up to get an email when he updates his blog, and follow him on Facebook, too!