Monday, June 20, 2011
Rosey, an 11-year-old Labrador Retriever was brought to the hospital because she was depressed and had not eaten for 3 days. She walked slowly with her head held low and showed no interest in her surroundings at the hospital. On examination, her heartbeat was exceptionally rapid, about 200 beats per minute. The abdomen was slightly distended and in it I could feel a large, firm tumor that I thought might be the spleen. The spleen is an organ that blood flows through to be cleansed of defective blood cells and infectious agents. With a hypodermic needle I pierced the body wall and removed a small amount of the tumor’s content. Surprise! All I got was a syringe full of dead and degenerated blood cells. Whatever the tumor was, it was trapping and holding blood cells, not letting them return to the body’s circulation. A blood count showed Rosey was anemic. She had lost 70% of her circulating blood cells, enough so that resulting anemia put her at risk of dying. It was assumed Rosey’s health problem was related to the abdominal tumor that must be removed. But as anemic as she was she might not survive the operation. So, we collected 400ml of blood from Bridger, the in-house blood donor, and while it was flowing into Rosey we opened her abdomen and found the abdominal tumor was, in fact, the spleen which had rotated in the abdomen. Its blood vessels had been twisted, thus blood could flow into the spleen but not out. The spleen was removed. It weighed more than 1000 grams about 10 times more than normal. Rosey recovered and again is a happy healthy dog.
Spleenic torsion is an unusual disease in dogs. Success in this case was related to sampling the spleen and knowing its content before surgery. If I had corrected the torsion instead of removing the spleen the dead-cell content in the spleen would have drained into the circulatory system and killed the dog. Administration of blood during surgery saved time allowing us to proceed without first stabilizing the dog medically.
"Photo Attributed to emildom74 via flickr.com