Ivy is a lucky dog, living a dog’s life of great outdoor adventures.
Meet Ivy, an 11 year old female spayed black Labrador retriever who is owned by one of our Registered Veterinary Technicians. Ivy is a very active dog that goes on hikes all around the Lower Mainland with her owner up to 4-6 times a week. She is in excellent health and has no health concerns other than some sore muscles and minor arthritic flares once in awhile after some of the longer hikes. She has yearly blood and urine testing done for preventative/wellness and to make sure her kidneys and liver are healthy. She also has her spleen monitored by ultrasound every 6 months as Labradors can be pre-disposed for a certain cancer that affects the spleen. She has nodules on her spleen which have been tested and are what are considered part of normal aging. She also had a low grade mast cell tumor that was completely excised last August which is considered curative for this type of cancer.
Unfortunately, Ivys’ sister Gretel saw us on an emergency basis for being extremely lethargic and seemingly short of breath. She had x-rays and an ultrasound that pointed to a type of heart disease known as dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). Very sadly she was not responding to treatment and did not make it. Because of this, Ivys’ owner decided to do chest x-rays to make sure Ivy also did not have DCM even though she did not have any symptoms of heart disease. She did not have heart disease but she did have a large mass in an area known as the mediastinum, that is just above the heart. She then had and ultrasound performed by a radiologist who collected a small sample through an ultrasound- guided needle aspirate. This sample was analyzed and was suggested to be a thymoma which is a tumor of the thymus gland. Medisatinal tumor are considered fairly rare. Because the sample was so small, it only represented a tiny portion of this mass and this test does not necessarily mean it is not cancerous. We are fortunate enough to have a CT scanner here at our clinic and we were able to rush her into have a CT performed. This was able to tell us whether or not the tumor was invasive to other important structures in the mediastinum such as the aorta, vena cava and other important nerves and vessels. The CT revealed that is was most likely not invasive and was encapsulated. These are important findings as thymomas can be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Testing of the cells alone does not tell us this, however, how the tumor looks or behaves can suggest either one. An encapsulated, non-invasive tumor containing fluid as Ivy’s was, suggests that it was not cancerous. You never can be fully sure until the tumor is explored surgically that it can be fully removed, but if so the entire tumor should be sent wholly for complete analysis and to confirm the diagnosis of thymoma.
Ivy was one of the lucky ones especially being an older dog, and this tumor was able to be expertly removed by Dr. Mark Smith, board certified veterinary surgeon who travels to our clinic for such procedures. This surgery involves opening up the rib cage through the sternum which is the plate of bone where the ribs meet in the front of the rib cage. The entire tumor was measured at 6cm by 5cm, was sent to the lab and was deemed to be a benign thymoma! Yaaaaay! She recovered beautifully in our clinic with love and flowers and waited anxiously for her ribs to fully heal so she could get back out on the trail!
Ivy healed well and is back to her hiking adventures!