Tumour in Jessie's leg

Meet Jessie, a 7 year old Kelpie whom we operated in May. She also happens to be the pet of our veterinarian, Dr Natalie.

Dr Natalie brought Jessie in after a limp developed 6 weeks previously. She had been trialling pain relief but her limp was not improving. The first step was to take radiographs of her front left leg to see if anything could be seen on the x­-ray. Jessie was sedated as Nurse Sharyn helped Dr Natalie take her radiographs. X-­rays were taken of her front left leg and it was seen on the viewer that there was a mass over Jessie's carpus. The carpus is the term for the complex joints in the lower front limb; it is equivalent to our wrist. Although it was hard to tell what was going on by the x­-ray alone, Dr Natalie suspected that Jessie had developed a tumour.

The next step in Jessie's treatment was to take a bone biopsy to send off to the laboratory. This would allow us to know a bit more about what was going on with Jessie and help to determine our course of treatment. A few days later Jessie returned and a bone biopsy was taken under a general anaesthetic. The biopsy was then sent to an outside pathology laboratory and the results returned a few days later. Unfortunately it showed that Jessie did in fact have a tumour, most likely a sarcoma. The best option for Jessie at this stage was to have her leg amputated.

Jessie returned again a few days later to have her surgery with Dr Lan Tran. With the assistance of Nurse Rebecca, Jessie was placed under general anaesthetic and prepared for surgery. The preparation involved shaving the leg around the shoulder where it was to be amputated from.

Although the tumour was located closer to the foot Dr Lan's experience showed her that dogs with full leg amputation recover much quicker and learn to walk much easier than those with partial leg amputations. Once the surgical site was clipped and cleaned Jessie was moved into the operating theatre. Here Dr Lan performed the amputation while Nurse Rebecca closely monitored her vital signs. After less than an hour Jessie's surgery was complete. She was then moved to her kennel to wake up and recover.

Jessie stayed with us overnight to remain on intravenous fluids including pain relief and keep her confined.

The next morning when Nurse Lindsay arrived Jessie was standing on her own and able to walk out to the toilet all by herself!

Jessie's mass was sent to the laboratory to determine the exact nature of her sarcoma. It was diagnosed as a soft tissue sarcoma. These are defined as tumours originating from structural and connective tissues. Luckily for Jessie it was shown that Dr Lan had removed all of the tumour. Often these tumours can also spread to the lungs but the x­-rays of her chest showed that her lungs were clear.

Dr Natalie reports that Jessie is doing really well. She is being spoiled by her dad and acting as if nothing ever happened!

Learn more about Cancer in Pets here.