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Old August 13th, 2007, 06:31 PM
mizrachi mizrachi is offline
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14 year old lab mix with giant lipoma

Our nearly 14 year old female lab mix has a huge lipoma on the side of her chest. It does not seem to bother her or interfere with her movement - although she does not like it to be touched - but this grapefruit sized tumor continues to grow, and is definitely a bit bigger now than it was at this time a year ago. Our vets want her operated on immediately. They fear the lipoma will outgrow its blood supply, leading to tissue death and rupture.

Over the years, the vets have performed fine needle aspirates of the lipoma, which they consistently describe as a benign fatty deposit. Today, however, the vets were quite disturbed by its size, and they recommended a biopsy to make sure it hadn't turned cancerous and then a surgical procedure to remove the massive growth entirely. Their fear was that the lipoma would rupture, and that as a result we would be forced to put our dog to sleep. Due to its size, the lipoma would be tricky to remove. It is likely that it has grown into the surrounding muscles and tissue. The vets said they were not qualified to handle a procedure of this scale. They recommended that we travel the five hours to a University's vet clinic where they would perform the procedure and the monitoring of our pet.

Obviously, we are quite concerned about all of this. I am reluctant to the idea of surgery itself, particularly with such an old dog. Beyond the surgery and the anesthesia and any complications that might arise, we're also concerned about her recovery. Would she be more comfortable without this procedure? Is it actually necessary? Or would she simply not even survive it?

In all of my research, I have yet to hear that a lipoma could rupture. From what I've read, surgery should only be considered if the dog's movement is hindered, which it is not in our case, and that otherwise a dog is just fine with these kinds of bumps. Of course, her bump is quite big and it concerns us still.

Thank you for your help.
Miz
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  #2  
Old August 13th, 2007, 07:21 PM
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coppperbelle coppperbelle is offline
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14 year old lab mix

Hi Miz
I can certainly understand your concerns. I don't know if I would put my dog through a surgery and recovery at that age. I hope someone has had experience with this and can answer your questions.
Good luck
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Old August 13th, 2007, 08:37 PM
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Dr Lee Dr Lee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mizrachi View Post
In all of my research, I have yet to hear that a lipoma could rupture. From what I've read, surgery should only be considered if the dog's movement is hindered, which it is not in our case, and that otherwise a dog is just fine with these kinds of bumps. Of course, her bump is quite big and it concerns us still.
In all my years of seeing lipomas and talking to other vets, I have yet to see or hear of one rupturing as well. Lipomas because they are made up primarily of fat, they have a minimal blood requirement and in their construction I have never seen one lose blood supply and necrose (die) inside. I have surgically taken off several that were 50-80% of the width of the pet! I have have one at eight pounds that I can remember - over a basketball size mass on a golden retriever.

My reasons for surgery on lipomas are 1) as you mentioned, if they interfere with movement, 2) if I am concerned about a aggressive tumor within or of the mass (for a large grapfruit sized mass there could be a malignancy lying within), 3) if it is rapidly growing. It is easier to undergo anesthesia at 14 then when it does interfere with mobility and she is 16 and 4) the owners just want it off.

Surgically it is a straight forward procedure (although you might want a veterinarian who is a bit more familiar with lipomas) and a relatively non-painful surgery. I have taken several ancient pets to surgery that have done wonderfully (20 year old cat, 17 year old shepard for bloat and another 15 year old shepard for splenectomy). This is not to say that I am sure that your pet should have surgery. I just want to put our there that age itself is not a disease but a state of years. When talking to veterinary anesthesiologists, many think there is more risk on six month only spay and neuters because the pet has never been exposed to an anesthetic where as an older dog has been,and we know how he or she responds to the anesthetic. This is of course assuming all pre-anesthetic tests are within normal limits.

If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to contact me. Good luck with your decision.
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Old August 15th, 2007, 11:32 PM
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mummummum mummummum is offline
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Questions for Dr. Lee:

>are there any alternatives to surgery to reduce or eliminate the giant lipoma (my grrrl Bridie also has one and it spoils her grrrlish figure !).
> how is the surgery done ? Is it liposuction or by sectioning it out with a laser or or or ?
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Old August 17th, 2007, 09:51 AM
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Dr Lee Dr Lee is offline
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Originally Posted by mummummum View Post
Questions for Dr. Lee:

>are there any alternatives to surgery to reduce or eliminate the giant lipoma (my grrrl Bridie also has one and it spoils her grrrlish figure !).
> how is the surgery done ? Is it liposuction or by sectioning it out with a laser or or or ?
There are some cases where pets have lipomas that are associated with being overweight. In those cases if the pet gets back to a normal weight, the lipomas may reduce to a more manageable size. In the case of 'giant lipomas' this is rarely the case though. And then surgery is the only option.

How does the surgery work? Actually very easily. They typically are just under the skin, they have minimal attachements, minimal blood supplies, easy to remove. Typically I will incise over the mass with the laser, expose the fatty mass (it looks exactly how you would probably imagine - like a smooth roundish, yellow, glistening blob of fat), manually shell it out (they almost just fall out much of the time), and then comes the difficult part - closing. The only difficulty with lipomas is the closing as there is a lot of space that you don't want to fill back up with blood (hematoma) and there is a lot of extra skin. So about 90% of the surgical time is closing - carefully tacking the skin down, removing excess skin and if needed, placing a drain.

The wonderful thing about these surgeries is that they are typically very low on the pain score. There is the skin incision, some manipulation of tissues and some inflammation where the sutures are placed. There is rarely muscle incising; you are often not close to nerves, etc...

Hope that helps
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Old August 19th, 2007, 12:46 PM
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mummummum mummummum is offline
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Thanks ! My vet seemed to think it would be a horrendously invovled thing to remove Bridie's. Hmmmm... how far is Arizona from Toronto ?
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Old August 19th, 2007, 01:15 PM
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Dr Lee Dr Lee is offline
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Originally Posted by mummummum View Post
Thanks ! My vet seemed to think it would be a horrendously invovled thing to remove Bridie's. Hmmmm... how far is Arizona from Toronto ?
Just a plane flight. We have wonderful hotels and restraunts close to both of my hospitals.

There have been some that seem 'involved' but many of those are also so defacto uncomfortable for the pet. Again, what is involved is how to reduce the excess skin and 'open space' created from the mass.

Do you have pictures you can send me privately?
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