Before & After – Shelter Vet Removes Large Mass, Saves Dog’s Vision

I received a phone call from a veterinary technician at the San Jose Animal Care Center on the weekend informing me that a dog had just come in with a large ulcerated mass coming out of its eye. Without any photo or video to aid my imagination, I started to picture what the technician was describing and prescribed pain medication and antibiotics to keep the dog comfortable and to fight off infection before I could examine it in person on Monday.

When I came into work on Monday, I found what was clearly a very happy dog, albeit with a large mass on its head that seemed to arise from the left eye or the area around that eye. It was not possible to visualize any part of the left eye.

Dog with Eye Mass, Trichoblastoma - Before Surgery

Dog with Eye Mass, Trichoblastoma – Before Surgery

The dog passed its behavior evaluation and was healthy aside from the mass.

I recall looking at this happy, white fluffy dog and wondered what am I going to do with you?!

I decided that the dog should not be euthanized because of the mass, unless the mass was determined to be malignant. That meant surgery to remove the mass, or at least to cut out part of the mass to determine what it is.

I added the dog to the list of animals to have surgery the next day and pondered what my approach would be to removing the mass along with the eye that was presumed to be affected. The head doesn’t have that much extra skin compared to other areas of the body, so closing the surgery site was a potential issue.

When the dog was put under general anesthesia to be prepped for the mass removal, I was called over by my technicians who were shaving the hair off the dog’s head to prepare it for surgery. I was surprised and amazed to find that the mass was not arising from the eye, but the area just over the eye. The actual globe of the eye looked to be unaffected by the mass.

That was a game changer for me.

Dog with Eye Mass, Trichoblastoma - Before Surgery

Dog with Eye Mass, Trichoblastoma – Before Surgery

Now my approach was changing in my head. Instead of removing the mass and the eye before closing it all up, I was going to try to remove the mass while sparing the eye. It was very hard to imagine and there was a very narrow area of tissue that was still normal between the eye and the mass. It would be difficult to do and I worried about the tension that closing the incision would put on the eyelid, stretching it to the side. I also worried about how the mass may have affected the muscles and nerves around the eye and whether they would be intact.

Despite my worries and given the overall state of the eye, I still firmly believed that it was better to save the eye than to remove it.

We went into the surgery suite not completely knowing how it would all work out, but it did. The mass was removed, the incision closed, and the eye remained. I was right to be concerned that there would be tension on the outer side of the eye. I was sure to alleviate tension and allow the incision to be closed with minimal tension on the eye, though clearly some tension remained.

Dog with Eye Mass, Trichoblastoma - Immediately After Surgery is Complete

Dog with Eye Mass, Trichoblastoma – Immediately After Surgery is Complete

But the eye remained. And it was visual!

Dog with Eye Mass, Trichoblastoma - Immediately After Waking Up From Surgery

Dog with Eye Mass, Trichoblastoma – Immediately After Waking Up From Surgery

We provided the dog with artificial tears in the left eye while the incision healed because the tension on the eye and the infiltration of the mass into the muscles around the eye and eyelid made it so that some of them were disrupted in order to remove the mass, making it so that the dog was not able to blink normally to protect its eye.

Dog with Eye Mass, Trichoblastoma - 2 Days After Surgery

Dog with Eye Mass, Trichoblastoma – 2 Days After Surgery

The swelling did resolve and the eye improved. Though it was not likely to be “normal” ever again, the dog was free of a burdensome mass (determined to be a benign trichoblastoma) and ready to find a forever home.

Dog with Eye Mass, Trichoblastoma - 2 weeks After Surgery

Dog with Eye Mass, Trichoblastoma – 2 weeks After Surgery

Dog with Eye Mass, Trichoblastoma - 2 weeks After Surgery

Dog with Eye Mass, Trichoblastoma – 2 weeks After Surgery

Dog with Eye Mass, Trichoblastoma - 2 weeks After Surgery

Dog with Eye Mass, Trichoblastoma – 2 weeks After Surgery

Though the eye may not look “normal” by many standards, it is a great reminder that we should not judge people or animals by the way they look. There is likely a story behind the atypical look of a person or animal and that story may not be what you expect. Just as this dog is not able to blink and has a slightly slanted left eye, a person that is unable to blink one eye or is paralyzed on one side of his/her face may have gone through something similar. And survived!

Be careful not to judge. These people and animals are every bit as, if not even more so, deserving of our love.

Posted on September 14, 2014, in Before & After, Shelter Vet Tails and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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