18 Jan Emergency of the Week – Lily
Sweet Lily came to Mountainside after her owners noticed she was shaking, panting, and wouldn’t lie down. Given that Lily’s heat cycle had only recently ended, and her symptoms started very suddenly, her owners decided to bring her in for assessment. Upon examination, her abdomen was quite tense, and her vulva was swollen, indicating a high likelihood of a pyometra.
Pyometra is an infection that can occur in unspayed females because of hormonal changes. After a heat cycle, the uterus’ lining thickens in preparation for pregnancy and the hormone progesterone remains elevated for up to two months. If no pregnancy occurs for several heat cycles, the lining continues to thicken until cysts form within the tissues of the uterus. These cysts then secrete fluids that can cause bacteria to grow, often leading to infection of the uterus that begins anywhere from 2-8 weeks after the end of a heat cycle. The most common treatment for pyometra is to remove the uterus as soon as possible (aka emergency spay). If pyometra is not treated promptly, the animal will become very ill from the toxic effects of the bacteria, and in many cases this is fatal.
Lily’s owners agreed to pursue emergency treatment for her. She was sedated, and the abdomen was shaved and cleaned in preparation for surgery. Initial bloodwork was taken, and an exploratory laparotomy was performed. Lily did not have pyometra, however, three distinct masses were found along the intestines. These were removed and Lily’s abdomen was sutured closed. Lily stayed at Mountainside overnight to recover from the surgery and was sent home the next day with antibiotics, antinauseants, and pain relief.
The masses were sent to the lab for examination. All three were deemed to be low grade soft tissue sarcomas – a type of cancer that is commonly found in the abdomen. These masses generally have a low recurrence rate.
Since her surgery, Lily has been doing remarkably well. Her owners report that she is playing with toys again, has more energy than ever before, and that she is like a brand-new dog.