What is Lumpectomy?
A lumpectomy in your dog is a surgical procedure to remove an abnormal growth on or below the skin surface, or attached to an organ wall. A physical examination, tests, and biopsy may be conducted prior to a lumpectomy to determine the nature of the lump, the cells involved, and whether the lump is benign or malignant. Samples of the lump are usually sent for analysis at the time of lumpectomy whether or not biopsy was conducted prior to the procedure to confirm diagnosis and establish tissue margins. A benign tumor may be treated with lumpectomy alone, malignant tumors may require additional treatment to ensure abnormal growths do not spread to other tissues. A lumpectomy will involve removal of the abnormal growth and some of the healthy tissue surrounding it to ensure that the abnormal cells do not spread to surrounding tissues. Small lumpectomies at the skin surface may be performed under local anesthetic by your veterinarian but most lumpectomies are performed under general anesthesia.
Lumpectomy Procedure in Dogs
If the lumpectomy is being performed at the surface of the skin on a small lump, local anesthetic may be used for the procedure. Your dog will be administered local anesthetic and the lump and tissue surrounding it will be removed with a scalpel or surgical tool specialized for the removal of skin lumps.
If general anesthetic is required, prior to lumpectomy, you will be asked to fast your dog from food for 12 hours. Water can be provided to prevent dehydration. Your veterinarian will provide you with specific instructions. General anesthesia will be administered and the site around the lump to be removed, or the area where an incision is required to access the lump, will be clipped to remove hair and cleaned antiseptically to prevent contamination of the surgical wound.
If the lump is located internally, an incision will be made and the internal organ and lump isolated. The lump is excised with a scalpel along with surrounding tissue is removed with the lump, to ensure spread of abnormal cells to healthy tissue does not occur.
Blood vessels to the lump and tissue being removed is cauterized, or tied off to control bleeding. If a large area of tissue is removed, reconstructive procedures may be required to close the gap, involving filling the area with tissue harvested from other areas of your dog’s body. Lump and tissue removed will be preserved in formalin and will be sent for analysis to ensure that healthy margins were obtained around the lump removed, and to assess the type of cells present. If malignant cells are present, chemotherapy or radiation therapy may be recommended in addition to the lumpectomy.
Incisions on organs or tissues under the skin are closed with absorbable sutures in the underlying tissues, and the outer layer of skin may be closed with surgical staples or standard sutures. A bandage or dressing to cover the surgical wound may be applied. If a large area was excised, a drain may be left in place to allow fluid buildup in the area to drain post-surgery.
The entire procedure usually takes anywhere from 15 minutes, for minor lumpectomies on or near the skin surface, to one hour for internal lumps, depending on the location of the lump and amount of tissue and reconstruction required.
Hospitalization will depend on the dog's overall health and any illness they are experiencing from presence of the lump or other diseases.
Efficacy of Lumpectomy in Dogs
The results of a lumpectomy depend on whether the abnormal cell growths are malignant and invasive and whether spread to other tissues has occurred. For non-invasive benign lumps, lumpectomy usually resolves the condition, although lumps can recur. For invasive, malignant, lumps, outcome is more varied and lumpectomy may require a surgery combined with chemotherapy or radiation therapy to control abnormal cell growth. In these cases, prognosis is more guarded.
Lumpectomy Recovery in Dogs
Following lumpectomy, your dog may be prescribed pain medication or antibiotics. These should be administered as directed by your veterinarian. It is important to ensure your dog does not interfere with the surgical wound and an Elizabethan collar and supervision will be required. If a drain has been placed, this will have to be monitored to ensure the drain does not become blocked or dislodged. Follow your veterinarian's instructions regarding replacement or removal of surgical dressings. The wound should be monitored to ensure rupture or infection does not occur. Sutures or staples will need to be removed in 10 to 14 days. Your dog should be kept quiet and avoid exercise or activity that would strain the incision, such as jumping on furniture or roughhousing with other pets. You may need to confine your dog to a cage or kennel if necessary. Follow up with your veterinarian will be necessary to ensure healing has occurred. If chemotherapy or radiation is required, this will usually be initiated once healing of the surgical wound has been achieved.
Cost of Lumpectomy in Dogs
The cost of lumpectomy depends on the location of the lump and the invasiveness of the surgical procedure. Lumpectomies on or just below the skin surface are usually less costly than those performed on internal organs. Lumpectomy costs including anesthetic and procedure can cost anywhere from $400 to $1,000, depending on the location of the lump and the cost of living in your area.
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Dog Lumpectomy Considerations
The risks from lumpectomies is low, especially if only local anesthetic was required. Risks from general anesthesia and bleeding are associated with more invasive lumpectomies. Postoperative care is important to ensure infection or rupture of surgical wound does not occur.
Lumpectomy Prevention in Dogs
Early detection of lumps is key to successful treatment, and will minimize the invasiveness of required lumpectomies. Regular examination and grooming of your dog makes early detection of lumps more likely. In addition, avoid allowing your dog to be exposed to harsh rays of the sun, by providing shade or using sunscreens formulated for dogs when necessary. The damage to skin from sun exposure can be minimized.
Lumpectomy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
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