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Dr. Pam Finds Dog Spleen Tumor with Ultrasound

In our last “day in the life” video interview with Dr. Pam Wiltzius, a long-term Tripawd supporter and incredibly talented veterinarian, we meet Chaos.

Three Legged Dog Codie at Santa Fe Cancer ClinicChaos (not pictured at left) is a middle-aged dog who might have a splenic tumor.

In this video, he will get an ultasound, which will tell Dr. Wiltzius more about condition of his spleen.

Do you ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes when your dog undergoes a veterinary procedure?

If so, here’s a sneak peak video of one important procedure, the ultrasound.


What Does the Spleen Do?

In both dogs and people, the spleen performs several functions that keep our blood and circulatory system in top condition. The spleen is located in the abdomen and works by removing old blood cells, bad particles and contaminants from blood. It works in unison with the immune system to keep the body healthy, removes contaminants out of the body’s circulatory system and stores red blood cells and platelets for emergencies when the body needs them. Other than the body’s bone marrow resource, the spleen is the only other place in the body where red blood cells are made. Despite performing these important functions, the spleen isn’t necessary for life.

According to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, a splenic mass can indicate anything from hemangiosarcoma, an aggressive, high-grade soft tissue sarcoma cancer, to Hematoma and Nodular Hyperplasia, two common conditions that the ACVS says “account for 20-41% of all splenic lesions. Hematoma and nodular hyperplasias are  benign nodules/masses of clotted blood. Surgical removal is curative.”

Symptoms of Spleen Problems

The ACVS says that spleen problems can appear as an acute condition manifested with pain and collapse. Or, it may be more chronic and appear as:

  • Intermittent abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal distension
  • Weight loss
  • Excessive drinking and urination.

Why the Ultrasound?

An ultrasound (otherwise known as a sonogram) uses sound waves to create images of body organs. According to Dr. Louise Murray, DVM, author of Vet Confidential,

“the sonogram process is similar to the sonar used by bats and by ships at sea. The sound waves are reflected by the patient’s tissues, and these reflected sound waves are recorded and displayed as a visual image.”

Ultrasounds are used when a veterinarian, internal medicine specialist or radiologist suspects diseased organs.  The organs an ultrasound machine can examine include the liver, gallbladder, kidneys, spleen, urinary bladder, pancreas, adrenal glands and reproductive organs. This technology can also pick up obstructions, such as accidentally digested foreign objects. Most animals don’t need to be sedated unless there is severe abdominal pain from the suspected illness.

What Happened to Chaos?

Soon after the ultrasound, Chaos went into surgery to remove his spleen.  Luckily for him, Dr. Wiltzius reported that the tumor was a benign hematoma. By removing the spleen, it cured him of the issue.

What a lucky dawg! Not only was he cured, but he has Dr. Wiltzius for a vet!

Many thanks to Dr. Wiltzius for her pawesome perspective on canine health, leg amputation and bone cancer.

Learn more from Dr. Wiltzius in this video playlist or in more detail here:

2 thoughts on “Dr. Pam Finds Dog Spleen Tumor with Ultrasound”

  1. Our dog, ‘Bentley’ (a 94 lb. 11 year old White English Lab Male) was diagnosed three days ago (on June 9, 2022 on my 71st.birthday) with a baseball size mass on the Spleen. The exam was prompted by two unexplained seizures. One seizure at 4 am then the next day another seizure at 4 am (we are two days now without any more seizures ?). Our dog continues to act normal now. The doctor said only a removal of the spleen can determine if there is cancer at a cost of $3,000. If it is cancerous then only chemo therapy at thousands of dollars more could save his life. As a disabled senior on social security that financial solution is untenable (sadly, just last month when our dog insurance jumped to $200/mo. I had to drop it !!!). The doctor said the mass could however suddenly rupture and then death will come quickly. It all comes down to money and a dog at the upper limit of his normal life span. If I knew the $3,000 operation determined no cancer existed (benign) and he would have a few more years to live I would find the money to extend his life. Frankly, a respectful euthanasia and cremation ($300) if he begins to deteriorate seems the best solution. YOUR COMMENTS PLEASE, what to do?

    • Marc, I’m so sorry about Bentley. You are a remarkable dog parent to him, he is so lucky to have you for his dad. Any decision you end up making will be made with the utmost of love and compassion for your boy, and he knows that. I feel your pain about the pet insurance price, that happened to us as well. One thing we learned about pet insurance recently is that if you start out with the most “Cadillac” plan you can afford, as the dog ages you have options to decrease coverage when premiums go up. I know that doesn’t help now but maybe in the future. Meanwhile you might want to check into these financial resources to see if any are available to help you with the surgery.


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