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Posted By: Ellen - Vet

Willow gets a lump on her leg

It frequently seems to be that our pets become unwell while we are away on holiday. Unfortunately this was the case with a lovely, 1 year old Golden Retriever called Willow. She was being looked after by family members and was bought to see us when they noticed a lump inside her right hind leg. It had appeared quite suddenly and they were rightly concerned. The lump was not causing any lameness and Willow seemed bright and happy in herself. We took a sample from the lump to see what was inside and to try to find out why it had suddenly appeared.

The following day, the results showed it was made up of fatty tissue and some inflammatory cells. This didn’t really give us any diagnosis and we began to consider something like a bite or sting had caused it. We decided to closely monitor it over the next few days to see if this was the cause and to see whether it would settle down by itself.

A few days later, once her owners had returned, Willow came back into the surgery. The lump was unchanged and still very large. We took another deeper sample. However the results were the same as the previous one. As the lump was remaining very large we had to pursue more invasive action to find the cause. Willow came in for the whole day to have an anaesthetic and allow us to surgically explore the mass.

This further exploration revealed layers and layers of fatty tissue, but no evidence of a foreign body or any other tissues. The fatty tissue extended all around the muscle, nerves and blood vessels of the leg. It looked like a lipoma, which is a non malignant fatty mass meaning that it does not usually spread to other areas. However a lipoma is very uncommon in such young dogs and there was a possibility of it being a malignant lump. This mass was of concern as it was invading the tissues surrounding it. As it was so large and involved so many different parts of the leg, we elected not to attempt to remove it as there was a high risk of causing damage to the nerves. Willow was referred to a specialist soft tissue surgeon who was able to perform a CT scan of the mass in her leg. They were able, from this, to work out exactly where the mass was and which nerves were running through it. They were then able to plan and perform surgery to remove it. Once this had been done the lab fortunately confirmed that it was a benign tumour, meaning that it is unlikely to spread to other areas. However it was ‘infiltrative’ meaning it was growing into the normal muscle of the leg. Although it has been removed we will have to be careful to monitor the area closely for signs of regrowth.

A drain was placed into Willow’s leg after the surgery to allow the fluid that had built up under the wound, to be released. Fluid can often build up particularly as there was such large gap under the skin once the mass had been taken away. This was eventually removed and the swelling began slowly reducing. It has been over a month since her surgery and her leg is back to normal and Willow is doing really well. She has been a brilliant patient throughout and we’re glad to see her continually wagging her tail even when she comes for a visit to the vets.

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