Surgery

Our team knows surgery can be an anxious time and we want to make it as easy and stress-free as possible. That’s why we have put together a comprehensive suite of information about possible surgical procedures to help you make the most informed decisions possible.

Mass removals

Many pets, more often dogs than cats, develop masses (tumors, lumps, bumps, etc) as they age. Many of these do not need to be removed but in the case where they are becoming infected, are bothering the pet or we suspect cancer, surgical removal is in order. This is a procedure we perform every week. The pets are admitted to the hospital in the morning, pre-anesthetic testing and monitoring is done and then your pet is anesthetized and the procedure is performed. Most need general (gas) anesthesia but some can be done under local. The masses are usually sent for biopsy. Your pet is sent home with a pain management plan and sometimes antibiotics. As always, your pet’s comfort through this process is very important to us and we take steps to lessen their anxiety and pain whenever possible.

Spleenectomy

Some older dogs develop tumors in their spleens. These tumors are most often a type of cancer called hemangiosarcoma. Less often, but always hoped for, they are simply a large blood clot (hematoma). This condition rears its ugly head by causing bleeding in the abdomen. Owner’s see their dog suddenly become very lethargic and/or develop a rounded belly. However, sometimes this condition is caught before any adverse effects are felt, like on a routine physical exam (hence the importance of the routine physical). A frank conversation follows any suspicion or diagnosis of this problem. If it is decided to go to surgery, we usually perform it the same day. Thoracic xrays are done before surgery to check for signs that the cancer has spread (metastasis). During surgery the entire spleen is removed (dogs can live years without their spleen, even if the final diagnosis is not cancer). Sometimes biopsy samples of the liver are also taken. Dogs spend the night in the hospital under direct supervision. Most dogs recover uneventfully from this procedure and can go home the next day. Unfortunately, if the final biopsy shows cancer, the dog will live only 1-2 months more. In the happier event that the biopsy shows simply a blood clot, the dog will live out the rest of its natural life.

Bladder Surgery

Dogs and cats often have urinary problems. The cause of these can range from stress and anxiety in cats to chronic urinary tract infections to nutritional imbalances. Oftentimes we can manage these problems with medication and diet change but sometimes this condition leads to stone formation in the urinary bladder. These stones can completely block the outflow of urine (more common in male cats) and/or cause pain and urinary bleeding. Surgery to remove these stones is required because once stones form,  diet change will not dissolve them in a timely manner. Surgery involves opening the urinary bladder, physically removing the stones, flushing the urethra to remove any stones that have become lodged and suturing the bladder closed. Recovery is usually uneventful and the pets feel so much better being able to freely urinate. Depending on the composition of the stones, diet change and medication may be in order.

Foreign body ingestion

Many dogs, and cats too, will eat things they shouldn’t. If we are lucky these objects will pass right through. Sometimes they get lodged and cause great distress. Usually owner’s report their pet isn’t eating or it is vomiting repeatedly. We will perform xrays and/or ultrasound to try diagnose a true intestinal obstruction. Sometimes it is more the clinical signs and history that lead us to the decision to go to surgery than the imaging. Surgery involves opening the abdomen and physically handling the entire GI tract from stomach to colon to try and locate the obstruction. Once located the object is removed by opening the intestine or stomach and removing it. In more severe cases, a portion of the intestine has to be completely removed (resected) and the ends reconnected in order to remove the object and damaged tissue surrounding it. In the most severe and often most long standing cases, the object has caused a hole to develop in the intestine or stomach wall and contents to spill out into the abdominal cavity. This is called perforation with ensuing peritonitis.
It is very important to address the signs of obstruction soon so this final scenario does not develop.

Specialty Surgery

There are many disease processes that require a higher level of surgery than Dr. Glassman can perform. We are well aware of our limitations and will not perform procedures that are beyond our scope of ability. We will call a board-certified surgeon into our hospital to perform these procedures. It is not unusual to see the boarded surgeon at our facility every month. Mainly he performs orthopedic surgery and mainly this is repair of a torn cruciate ligament of a dog’s knee. Other procedures performed are large dog amputations, complicated intestinal procedures, anything involving the kidney, liver or pancreas, among many other things.

What You Need to Know

We know there are a lot of questions before your pet undergoes a surgical procedure. We’ve gathered some key details that can help you put your mind at ease.