Despite her advancing years, she always bustles into the surgery and is full of enthusiasm with a tail that wags like a whip.
When Bonnie came in for a routine blood test around a week ago, there was no evidence to betray the fact that she had a serious medical problem.
We advise periodic blood tests in elderly dogs, as prompt diagnosis of a developing condition can be very important and, to our surprise, Bonnie’s blood test showed up a problem. Despite appearing to be fit and well, Bonnie’s blood test suggested that there was an issue with the performance of her liver and this news came as a terrible shock to her owner.
Wherever possible in an elderly dog, we try to investigate the problem in as minimally-invasive a manner as possible so Bonnie was admitted to have an Ultrasound scan of her liver.
My worst fears were confirmed and the scan confirmed that there was a large tumour on her liver. Bonnie’s poor owner was devastated and we discussed, at length, the implications of the tumour. Although Bonnie still appeared well, it is inevitable that these sorts of tumours progress and, without major intervention, the outlook was bleak.
We decided to investigate further and, rather than subject her to major surgery before we were sure of the characteristics of the tumour, we decided to use laparoscopic or keyhole surgery to examine the abdomen and assess the extent of the tumour spread. The laparoscope gave us a very clear view inside the abdomen and we could see that the tumour appeared to only be affecting one liver lobe. Biopsies were taken in the abnormal area of the liver and also the area of the liver that appeared normal.
Our Pathology lab in Norfolk were alerted that the biopsies needed to be analysed urgently and with the help of a courier service to get the samples to Norfolk and the email reporting system, we had results by the next day.
The results suggested that the tumour may not have spread beyond the obviously affected area and so, after further discussion with her owner, it was decided to try to remove the tumour.
The surgery went well. Blood loss can be an issue with this kind of surgery but with careful dissection, electrocautery to help to seal the vessels within the liver and a drip to maintain her blood pressure, Bonnie sailed through the surgery with surprising ease.
Bonnie has been monitored around the clock in the hospital but I am delighted to say that she is making great progress and I anticipate she will be back home with her owner by the time you read this column.