Rat surgery and some toxicology… (Day 436)

Rat tumour removal surgery before and after

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Vet School Success

Its now the end of week 10 of my second semester of vet school and until now I’ve done some surgery, seen more surgery and memorised more tables than any sane person ever should. This morning started with Toxicology, this week we were looking at medication overdoses… and the practical focused on one of the most common causes of poisoning in cats – that of paracetamol. So as with all poisons there are several steps to working out what it is under laboratory conditions, first there is collection the sample, purification of the toxic substance, and then the identification of the substance. This is where it is crucial to memorize lists of symptoms so that you can guess what to test for before you test as a lot of tests are very specific to one toxin.

Following this we had our diseases of small mammals practical which was rescheduled from Wednesday, today we had two patients, both rats with large skin tumours (a very common rat problem). Now the problem with skin tumours is that once they are treated they are likely to re-occur which for an animal that “costs” so little can result in high vet bills. The doctor asked me to assist on the first surgery which needed to be completed efficiently as the owner was collecting the patient shortly. This was a single tumour by the front leg which we removed successfully.

The second surgery was more interesting as there  were originally two tumours, however during the prep for the patient I discovered another smaller tumour on the opposite side to the front one bringing the total up to three. This patient was one that the owner wanted to euthanize as they could not afford the cost of surgery, however the doctor offered to do it  at a much lower cost because of our class. Now during this surgery we removed both the tumours around the front legs through a single incision, before we started the massive tumour around the back leg. This rat started surgery weighing 334g and finished surgery around the 270g weight, the massive tumour around the back leg weighed a whooping 56g! Check out the before and after picture…

Rat tumour removal surgery before and after

After class as I was leaving an emergency patient arrived so I stayed to help with this as well, I was very lucky to see this as the doctor had never seen it before either. A rat with dystocia (problems giving birth) – so on examining the patient the back legs were out but the rest of the body wasn’t so the doctor assisted with the removal. This baby was dead as the mom had tried to assist with the birth and eaten most of the soft tissue from the back legs and intestines. The pathology was pretty interesting as I have never seen a rat placenta (or baby rat) before so did a quick necropsy and found congestion in both the liver and atriums of the heart.

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