Sally, a three-year old West Highland White Terrier a patient of our sister clinic Fitzroy Vet Hospital had a three week history of feeling unwell. Several tests including bloods and radiographs had been performed with no specific findings. Her symptoms were vague consisting of general flatness. She had been found in a very depressed state two weeks prior. Her exam showed her vital signs were normal, however there was a painful mass detected in the region of the right kidney.
Radiographs of the abdomen showed a markedly enlarged right kidney. An abdominal ultrasound confirmed the mass was associated with the kidney. The mass was within the kidney and the kidney had been compressed resulting in hydronephrosis (a condition that typically occurs when one kidney becomes swollen due to the failure of normal drainage of urine from the kidney to the bladder).
Sally was referred to the Pascoe Vale Vet Hospital for surgery with our Staff Surgeon Dr Andrew Jacotine. The surgery performed was to remove the entire right kidney and the ureter, in order to remove as much abnormal tissue as possible. When kidneys are only slightly enlarged it is possible to remove a kidney via laparoscopic or keyhole surgery. Sally’s kidney was however about 4 times the size of the other normal kidney and was not able to be removed in this manner.
During the surgery, Dr Andrew used several pieces of cutting edge equipment to keep the incision as small as possible. The kidney had attached itself to the vena cava (the large vein that carries deoxygenated blood from the lower half of the body into the right atrium of the heart) and needed to be carefully removed from this to prevent major bleeding. Sally had very little blood loss during surgery and recovered within a few days and by day five was considered back to normal.
The removed kidney was sent off to an external laboratory for analysis. The pathology report on the removed kidney identified the tumour as a fibrosarcoma. This is an often nasty malignant tumour which can be found in many tissues including the kidney. Sally, now recovered from her surgery is undertaking chemotherapy as while the tumour has been removed there is a chance that cancerous cells remain and chemotherapy will assist to optimise her chances of beating this cancer.