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.
- I dissent.
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:
- I dissent.
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.
- I dissent.
[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.
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.
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 :(
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?
- And got the T-shirt
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.
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.
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?
- And got the T-shirt
What kind of bedding do you usually use?
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?
- And got the T-shirt
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.
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.