Happy-go-lucky Labrador Duncan was feeling very under the weather when we saw him, having been repeatedly sick for three days. We could feel a swelling in his abdomen but couldn’t tell from palpation or radiography whether this was a foreign body lodged in his guts or something more sinister. It was agreed that Duncan needed surgery – an exploratory laparotomy – for us to be able to identify the cause of his sickness.
Surgery confirmed a large, solid mass on Duncan’s spleen requiring a splenectomy (complete removal of the spleen). The spleen is a blood storage organ fed by many large blood vessels so meticulous attention is required to ensure all of these vessels are ‘tied off’ before the spleen can be removed to prevent internal bleeding.
Duncan’s spleen immediately after removal.
No other abnormalities were found in Duncan’s abdomen and he made a fantastic recovery after surgery – in fact his appetite returned almost as soon as he had woken up!
The spleen plays an important role in the body, storing and filtering blood as well as contributing to the immune system. However, as it is not essential for life, animals generally do very well after the spleen is removed.
Tumours arising in the spleen are not uncommon. Around 50% of splenic masses are malignant (cancerous) and carry a very poor prognosis because these tumours spread quickly, the spleen being part of the blood circulation system.
Thankfully Duncan’s tumour was benign (non cancerous) so he is completely cured and back to his bouncy self!
Duncan’s tumour is the large lump protruding from the spleen and measures over 10cm in diameter.