Karma is a lovely big Rottweiler cross. She is one of those dogs who comes in to see us with a big smile on her face and her tail wagging so hard it can be a hazard. She loves treats and the attention she gets at the vet, and we always love seeing her friendly smiling face at the clinic.
On this particular visit, however, Karma was not herself, she had been off her food for about four days (very unusual for Karma as she is a big eater). She was also flat and lethargic with a bit of a distended abdomen.
When we performed a physical exam on Karma the vet was immediately able to feel something was wrong in her abdomen. There was a very large mass that could be felt, and on ultrasound, this mass could be seen clearly. It was difficult to tell which organ the mass was growing from, but due to its location, the vet had a strong suspicion it was from Karma’s spleen.
Karma’s blood test indicated she was anaemic, suggesting she was having some bleeding from this mass. Luckily at this stage, there was no major haemorrhage. Surgery was booked for the following day.
Once the vet opened Karma’s abdomen it was clear that it was indeed her spleen that contained the mass. Karma had to have a surgery called a splenectomy, to remove her entire spleen (including the mass). The mass was so large that it required 2 vets to be able to carefully elevate and remove it from the abdomen. Her spleen tipped the scales at a massive 3 kilograms, with the mass measuring a whopping 18 centimetres across (that’s bigger than most rockmelons!)
Karma recovered extremely well from surgery, later that afternoon she was begging for food and eating again with her usual enthusiasm.
We monitored her red blood cell count over the next few days to ensure it remained stable and started to increase back to normal, which it did.
The next worry for Karma was to determine if the mass in her spleen was malignant (cancerous). If so there would be a risk that it could have spread elsewhere in her body before we had a chance to remove it.
We got the results back from the laboratory and we were all so relieved (the owner as well as the concerned vet and nursing staff) to get the news that it was a benign growth called a splenic lymphoid nodular hyperplasia, which had bled into the splenic space to make it grow so large very rapidly.
Even though the lesion was not nasty in terms of malignancy, it still had to be removed due to the massive size of the lesion compressing her other abdominal organs, and the risk of it potentially bleeding into her abdomen (which could have been life-threatening).
Karma is now doing splendidly well. 4 days post-operative she had regained the 3kg of weight she had lost and her appetite had rebounded rapidly. She is back to her normal energetic self with big happy smiles and waggy tails when she comes in to see us.