Posted By: Martin - Vet

Bayleigh's spleen

When you’ve had a tough day at work your main hope is that you can get home and just unwind.  That’s what the owner of Bayleigh, the 10½ year old cross breed dog, wanted to do one night recently.  However, when they arrived home it was very obvious that Bayleigh wasn’t at all well and the stresses of the day hadn’t yet finished.

Bayleigh had been very well in the morning but as soon as her owners arrived home they could see that she was panting and pacing around the house, and she appeared very painful in her tummy region.  They phoned their pet insurance advice line and the advice was very definite – take her to the vet straight away.

So Bayleigh was rushed in to the surgery and initial examinations confirmed not only that her abdomen was indeed very sore but also that she seemed to have an abnormal build-up of fluid inside. A brief ultrasound scan confirmed this and so blood samples were taken to investigate things further.  The results yielded yet more information and showed that Bayleigh had a mild anaemia.  With Bayleigh painful but generally in a stable condition, painkillers were administered and further bloods were sent for more detailed tests.

Bayleigh had a settled night on her painkillers and the additional blood results confirmed our previous findings as well as suggesting that the fluid in her abdomen was likely to be blood leaking from a growth on one of her organs. 

The next steps were clear, as we needed to identify more specifically where blood was leaking from and what could be done about it.  Bayleigh’s owners wanted to do whatever was necessary and she was admitted for a detailed abdominal ultrasound scan and X-rays. 

The ultrasound identified a mass on Bayleigh’s spleen.  No other findings were evident on the ultrasound or X-rays but the presence of a splenic mass alone was a concern.  There were many different possibilities for what the mass could be but one of the most likely was an aggressive tumour and so we had to warn Bayleigh’s owners of this.  There were two options – we could either operate to see if we could remove the mass or simply manage Bayleigh’s symptoms if they didn’t want her to undergo surgery.

Bayeigh’s owners knew the prognosis could be guarded but had no hesitation in requesting we should attempt surgery and try everything possible to save her. She went to surgery later that day and our findings were as expected.  She had blood in her abdomen and a large bleeding growth on her spleen. 

The spleen is an organ that can be removed without  causing major concerns and, with no other signs of tumour spread, this is what we undertook, in order to stop the bleeding and also allow us to send the mass away for analysis.  After a couple of hours Bayleigh was back in bed and, with the bleeding growth removed, she recovered well and was able to go home.  The big question yet to be answered was what would the analysis results tell us, and would it be good or bad news for Bayleigh? If the mass was an aggressive tumour there was a good chance it would have already spread to her other organs.

Bayleigh had her complications after the surgery as the surgical wound on her tummy became very inflamed and her anaemia made her weak.  However, the results returned and showed that the growth on her spleen was not a tumour but, in fact, an inflamed swelling of her spleen. This meant that the removal of the spleen in entirety would provide a complete cure.  As soon as Bayleigh’s owners received the results they were elated, and her more minor post operation complications seemed less of a stress all of a sudden. 

Over the following weeks Bayleigh grew stronger as her body responded to her condition and her anaemia gradually resolved.  It was a pleasure to finally examine her recently for her annual vaccination and sign her off from her regular visits to the vets, finally allowing her and her owners to get on with enjoying life. 

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