Current Weight: 750gms
History: Waffles, a 2year old female rat, was bought in to Wilston Vet as her owner had noticed a small lump that had developed over the last 2 weeks under her left armpit. The lump was about ½ cm big and quite firm to touch.
Apart from this, Waffles was very happy and eating well. Her physical examination detected no other abnormalities apart from the lump. Unfortunately, the majority of lumps in older rats are cancerous growths which generally have already spread to other organs by the time of diagnosis.
Waffles’ owner understood that there was a high chance that the lump had already spread to her internal organs, but even so, her owner elected to have the tumour removed.
Removal of the tumour in this case may be curative, if the tumour has not spread, and even if the tumor has spread, it could still allow Waffles to live a longer life. This is because often these tumours grow at such a rapid rate necessitating euthanasia due to their enlarging size. Often they interfere with the rat’s movement and sometimes ulcerate and become infected as they rapidly outgrow their blood supply. Waffles’ owner wanted to remove the tumour whilst it was small and still a relatively low risk surgery.
There is also the option of having these growths analysed by a pathologist once they are removed so that the tumour can be identified, graded and staged. Waffles’ owner decided against this as even if it did turn out to be cancerous, she had already made the decision that chemotherapy was not an option for Waffles so there was really no point in having the lump analysed.
Waffles was given a sedative and a pain killer prior to being anaesthetised and then maintained on a mask of anaesthetic gas.
The lump was excised with a large margin of healthy tissue surrounding it to ensure that the whole tumour was removed. The bleeding vessels were ligated with suture material by Dr Brothers and then the skin was sutured closed.
Following this, a bandage was applied over the sutures so that Waffles did not chew her sutures out. This is one of the biggest problems with rat surgery as rats love to chew on anything!
Waffles woke up very quickly and went home later that day. Waffles was sent home on an antibiotic to prevent infection of the wound, and a pain killer to numb any pain from the surgery site. The bandage stayed on for 10 days until the sutures were removed. Waffles made a full recovery and even now, 2 months after the surgery, there is no sign of the tumour regrowing or signs that it has spread to other organs.
Waffles is a very lucky rat indeed! Without the surgery it is likely that she would not be with us still today.