mammary tumor removal and anesthesia on senior guinea pig

Luna1

Post   » Sun May 03, 2020 6:16 pm


Hi Everyone,

I have a 6 (almost 6.5) year old male guinea pig that I love so much. Unfortunately, 4 days ago, I noticed a lump in his right breast, and took him to the vet to get it checked out. They did a needle aspiration and told me that it is a tumor, but they can't say if it's benign or malignant until we remove it and have it biopsied. I don't remember it being there a month ago, so it grew pretty fast I think :(

I read previous threads in this forum about this topic, and it looks like mammary tumor removal surgery is relatively less invasive than some other surgeries, but there is always a risk. My biggest worry is him not surviving anesthesia, or having complications post surgery (digestive, reaction to drugs). For example, couple years ago he had a really bad reaction to baytril, which messed up his whole digestive track.

Right now the tumor is relatively small (chick pea sized maybe?), so the doctor recommended removing it when it's small (surgery will be easier she said). He is otherwise very healthy, good energy levels, eats, drinks fine, and loves being cuddled. Based on what I read here, rather than the age of the animal, his health is more important when deciding if he is suitable for surgery, so we are leaning towards getting it removed, but I would be devastated if he didn't survive the surgery, knowing that he seems perfectly happy now, and we could have more time with him. But, if the tumor is malignant, I don't want to make him suffer, and in the future regret not getting it removed...This is such a hard decision.

I wanted to ask what is your experience with anesthesia and older guinea pigs. Is gas anesthesia better than injected ones? If it's a shorter surgery (~20 min), does that lower the risk of death from anesthesia? I also read they can post-op could be really hard, does anyone have any experience with this type of surgery on their guinea pig?

Thank you so much.

User avatar
Sef
I dissent.

Post   » Sun May 03, 2020 8:00 pm


It's a difficult question. I tend to feel that the overall health and thriftiness of the guinea pig are better indicators of a good surgical candidate than age alone. If a guinea pig is strong, a good weight, and doesn't have any known underlying conditions, I would feel better about surgery in a 6 or 7-year old guinea pig than a patient (of any age, really) who is weak, has lost a drastic amount of weight and is generally doing poorly.

Obviously, any surgery carries risk from the anesthesia, from surgical complications, secondary infection, difficult recovery, etc. Another big factor is the skill and experience of the veterinarian and the anesthesiologist.

I would want to have a discussion with your vet to gauge how he/she feels about it. Is the vet confident or reluctant to do the surgery? Has he/she done this type of procedure before in an older animal? How much time do they think the procedure will take? What type of anesthesia will they use? And an important question that tends to tell me a lot about the experience of the vet where small animals are concerned: How do they suggest prepping the animal for this type of surgery? A vet who advocates "fasting" (withholding food) for many hours prior to surgery makes me concerned that he/she may not be all that savvy.

Is this an enlarged nipple or a lump somewhere else on his chest? If you haven't already seen it, there is a helpful GL page on lumps here:
http://www.guinealynx.info/lumps.html

User avatar
Sef
I dissent.

Post   » Sun May 03, 2020 8:02 pm


ETA: Is this the same guinea pig with the weird growth on his mouth?
http://www.guinealynx.info/forums/viewtopic.php?p=2308303#p2308303

Luna1

Post   » Sun May 03, 2020 8:11 pm


Yes, it's the same guinea pig :( It has been a tough month...

They also said they can remove the growth in his mouth, but I worry about doing too many things at once.

These are all good questions, one of the surgery techs will call us tomorrow to discuss the surgery and I will ask all these questions. My original vet is a good exotics vet, but due to Covid, he is only doing televisits now :( I don't know who will do the surgery yet, but it will be another doctor in the same hospital as my original vet. He said they have very skilled surgeons and anesthesiologist there. I will know more once they schedule the surgery.

The lump is under his right nipple area, not painful to touch, and not moving. The doctor that saw him 2 days ago seems to be a knowledgable exotics vet based on our conversation.

User avatar
Sef
I dissent.

Post   » Sun May 03, 2020 8:34 pm


I'm sorry that you're dealing with both issues with him. Do let us know what the tech has to say when you are able to talk it through further.

[Just as an FYI...we do ask that you have only one medical thread per pig so that we can easily see the health history of that guinea pig. Past illness or other issues that may seem unrelated to a current problem may actually be connected in some way.]

Good luck and keep us posted.

Luna1

Post   » Sun May 03, 2020 8:52 pm


Oh, ok, should I delete the posts here and post in the previous thread?

User avatar
Sef
I dissent.

Post   » Sun May 03, 2020 8:54 pm


I'll let Lynx close the other thread or combine the two. Thanks!

User avatar
Lynx
Celebrate!!!

Post   » Sun May 03, 2020 10:16 pm


I have never combined one topic with another. I think bpatters has though.

Ditto on the importance of trying to stick with one topic per guinea pig. It helps us get a better picture of your guinea pig.

Sef's advice is excellent. Especially regarding how comfortable your vet is with this type of surgery.

It appears this is a mammary tumor.
http://www.guinealynx.info/tumor_mammary.html

Luna1

Post   » Sun May 03, 2020 10:26 pm


I have a feeling they will say that they are comfortable, but there are always risks (it's a hospital where they look at exotics, and do soft tissue surgeries). I will update the thread once I speak with them (hopefully tomorrow).

In the end, I have to make the decision I guess...I just wanted to know if other other people's stories, to make sure I am not making a mistake if I go ahead with the surgery :(

Luna1

Post   » Tue May 05, 2020 4:29 pm


Quick update, they scheduled a surgery for my guinea pig on friday, with a doctor I don't know. I live in San Francisco and take my guinea pig to normally Dr. Curt Nakamura which is a very good doctor, but since he is only doing televisits from now on, they assigned me to another doctor in the same hospital. (Different than the vet that saw his on saturday and did the needle aspiration).

First they said a tech would call us but no one did, Now, I am trying to get to talk to her and ask questions, but they tell me she is busy and can talk to us until on the day of the surgery in the morning when we get there. They sent me invoice with some information, Based on the invoice, it looks like they would do anesthesia with isofluorane, and there is an injections part including: buprenorphine, midazolam, and meloxicam.

I am so frustrated, that I can't even talk to her without going there on the day of surgery. Is this how your experience is?

bpatters
And got the T-shirt

Post   » Tue May 05, 2020 5:56 pm


Well, I think most normal protocols have been upended with this pandemic. My own vet is doing curbside visits, which means the staff have to come out to the car, get the animal, talk to the owner on the phone, bring the animal and the payment method back. So it's taking longer for them to process animals, and things are just slower in general.

The anesthesia looks normal to me. What I'd want to know is if that is the standard protocol for a guinea pig. And I wouldn't want the meloxicam given until the buprenorphine begins to wear off.

Luna1

Post   » Tue May 05, 2020 7:13 pm


I know, we have done the curbside visit, too. I was just frustrated that I couldn't talk to someone knowledgable on the phone without going there on the day of the surgery. I want to get a better understanding of how risky this operation (and post surgery recovery) is. 10%? 20%?, or is it more risky to not remove the tumor.

Why would you not want meloxicam given until buprenorphine begins to wear off?

Finally somebody from the surgery department called us, the person we talked to said that the doctor we are assigned to has done more than 3 but less than 10 surgeries on guinea pigs, she works mostly with cats but also looks at guinea pigs. That didn't sound a lot to me, I booked an appointment with another vet (at a hospital that only treats birds and exotics), and will get a second opinion.

bpatters
And got the T-shirt

Post   » Tue May 05, 2020 8:26 pm


Sounds like a plan to me. I wouldn't want a vet who had done fewer than 10 surgeries on guinea pigs to operate on one of mine!

Buprenorphine really zonks a pig out. I'd want to know the pig was coming out of that fog before introducing a pain med in any quantity.

Luna1

Post   » Thu May 07, 2020 4:54 pm


Ok, here is an update from the second vet. She did an x-ray and said that the lungs look clear, heart looks good, waiting to get back results from bloodwork. If they look good, he is scheduled for surgery on wednesday (6 days from now). I hope his tumor won't grow too much by then :(

She only looks at exotics, and gave me more confidence. But, she said she doesn't prescribe antibiotics for after surgery, and I thought they all did that to prevent infections, or help fight them?

bpatters
And got the T-shirt

Post   » Thu May 07, 2020 5:27 pm


Not always. Antibiotics often cause guinea pigs to completely lose their appetites, at best, or develop pretty serious GI problems, at worst. I imagine she'll give you instructions, but the main thing you should do is keep follow the wound care instructions and keep his cage scrupulously clean.

What kind of bedding do you usually use?

Luna1

Post   » Thu May 07, 2020 6:23 pm


I told her not to give baytril for sure, since that one caused him pretty bad GI problems couple years ago. He used bactrim when he was 6 months old, and that one didn't cause any problems back then.

I use fleece with a towel under it, and soft paper bedding from small pet select (only on the kitchen part of his C&C cage). I was thinking of only using fleece/towel after surgery, and change it twice a day maybe? What do you recommend?

bpatters
And got the T-shirt

Post   » Thu May 07, 2020 6:48 pm


I think the fleece and towels would work fine as long as you do change them both. And I'd probably either put smaller pee pads wherever he pees and poops the most and change them more frequently. With no antibiotics on board, you don't want that incision line to get infected.

Bactrim wouldn't be a very good choice for something like this. It mainly treats anaerobic bacteria -- the ones the don't grow in the air. It's why it usually works well for bladder infections.

Luna1

Post   » Fri May 08, 2020 1:23 am


I also forgot to mention, I found a second much smaller mass above the first one (which is under his nipple), the doctor said she will probably remove the mammary gland. Do they usually just remove the tumor? Is this much more invasive to remove the whole gland?

User avatar
Lynx
Celebrate!!!

Post   » Fri May 08, 2020 9:06 am


What your vet plans to do sounds reasonable. I don't think it will affect the surgery or healing process significantly.

Luna1

Post   » Tue May 12, 2020 11:32 am


Tomorrow is the day of the surgery...I am so nervous, and I hope this is the right decision. He seems so happy and healthy now, but the tumors do feel a bit bigger. I hope he makes it through this with all my heart...

I read the section about hand feeding and bought wheat grass, unflavored pedialyte, and also unsweetened all natural cranberry juice for making the critical care if he doesn't eat by himself after the surgery, and if he doesn't eat critical care with water. I have never given pedialyte or cranberry juice these to him before, should I be worried about giving them now? Also, do you dilute the cranberry juice?

Thank you for all your advice, I really appreciate having a forum like this.

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