Splenectomies are performed routinely at AVDH
“We see splenic tumors on a fairly regular basis,” says Dr. Varga. “Some splenic tumors are obvious. You can see that the patient’s abdomen is distended, and their gums look pale.” In these situations, doctors can feel the tumor in a physical exam.
“Other times, owners will tell me that their dog isn’t eating as well and has a low energy level or is vomiting intermittently. Splenic tumors are something I think about and want to rule out as soon as possible,” states Dr. Varga. A simple ultrasound can determine whether a splenic tumor is the problem.
“After identifying a splenic tumor, it’s imperative to see if it has metastasized,” explains Dr. Donop.
“Although no met check is 100%, we prefer a CAT Scan. It gives us a more accurate view of the entire body. We can see if the tumor has spread to the heart, liver and lungs. If the CT shows no sign of metastasis, the patient is a candidate for a splenectomy, the most effective treatment.”
Without treatment, the average time from the tumor’s discovery until death of affected dogs is 2 to 6 months.
The spleen, a large organ in the abdomen, filters blood, among other functions. However, dogs and cats can live normal, happy lives without their spleens.
AVDH doctors use a new revolutionary surgical instrument called Ligasure. This instrument cauterizes and legates the splenic vessels to remove them from the abdomen. As the picture demonstrates, the effect is virtually no bleeding. The procedure takes approximately 30 minutes. Generally, the patient goes home the next day. The recovery time is 5-7 days which includes no running, jumping, or swimming.
“In the past, 50% of spleen removals were on an emergency basis,” states Dr. Donop.
“Dogs would come in bleeding internally. The surgery had to be done immediately or the animal would most likely die. Now, however, we are finding splenic tumors during routine wellness ultrasounds. This gives us and the client valuable time to prepare for the procedure and the client time to prepare for post-surgical care.”
As with all medicine, preventative medicine is the best medicine.