Posted By: Martin - Vet

Vets Diary - Jess is June's Pet of the Month

Removing skin lumps can be a day-to-day occurrence at the surgery.  In general this is often a routine operation, with the aim of removing the lump to then conduct tests to determine its precise nature. In many cases the lump is causing no current problems, but we know that further growth is likely to be detrimental, so this is usually a pre-emptive action. However, occasionally we see something a little out of the ordinary, and in this case a patient that left the surgery feeling half the dog they did when they entered.

When Jess the 13 year old cross breed came in for her booster vaccinations her lump was impossible to miss. She was hauling around a very large mass attached to her side, not only troubling her but causing her owner to worry immensely.

Over the previous year or two the lump had developed and been tested and identified as a lipoma – a benign tumour of fat cells.  The nature of the lump meant that it would not spread and was highly likely to remain as a non-painful lump that caused few problems.  The owner had taken advice on this, with the options being to leave it alone or have surgery to remove it.  In the end it was elected to leave the lump as Jess was an older patient and it was quite possible that the lipoma would never cause an issue. However, this was not quite how it developed.  

Over several months the mass grew much more rapidly than expected.  Jess’ owner was worried by the thought of the mass but also whether she could cope with an anaesthetic to remove it.  However, a well-timed vaccination reminder card prompted them to book her in so, together, we could discuss what was best to do.   

Jess was in otherwise very good form.  Her walk had been affected by the mass as her right hind leg had to swing around the lump.  However, her overall health check was good and blood tests also showed that she was generally very well.  We took an aspirate (a small sample of cells taken with a needle) of the lump, which also confirmed that it was still a benign lipoma.

Jess was soon back in and had surgery on the mass.  The lump was removed in a delicate surgery that took quite some time.  Each blood vessel attached to the mass was carefully cauterised as the potential for blood loss was huge. Jess needed surgical drains left in the operation site after the procedure, to allow healing the start without fluid accumulating in the space left by the mass.   However, Jess coped incredibly well with the surgery and after a couple of hours was back in bed minus one lump and a large amount of skin.

The lump weighed a staggering 9.5kg and it wasn’t too long before Jess was clearly finding life was much easier.  She was regularly examined over the following week and eventually her surgical drains were removed.  Her owner was reporting that Jess was now taking him for a walk and not the other way around. All round, Jess was a much happier dog.

Picture of Jess after her operation

Now, Jess’ walk has even improved and looks quite normal.  She is a great example of the concerns that our pets can put us through, especially when we face the question of whether an older pet should undergo surgery.  However, we can do a lot to help patients in these situations and age alone is not a reason to deter us from surgery if there can be great gains at the end of it. 

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