tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)TOA PAYOH VETS
toapayohvets.com

Date:   10 November, 2007     
Focus: Small animals - dogs, cats, hamsters & rabbits.

 

Toa Payoh Vets in Feb 11 2005, 3rd day Chinese New Year. Alaskan Malamute
tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)927. Newly renovated Toa Payoh Vets Surgery.
SURGERY HOURS: 
*10 a.m - 5 p.m (Mon - Sun, except Sat). Dr Sing. By Appointment Only.

*6 p.m - 10 p.m (Mon - Fri). 10am - 5pm (Sat). Dr Jason Teo. House-calls available.

Appointment preferred.
Tel: 6254 3326, 9668-6469
judy@toapayohvets.com
Fax: +65 6256 0501
Singapore Toa Payoh Vets in 1990s
LINKS: 
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sinpets.com
COMMUNITY EDUCATION: 
Be Kind To Pets
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BOOK: 
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Interesting case studies/Be Kind To Pets pictures for Hamster Lovers
Community Education: Be Kind To Pets

Haematoma in a dwarf hamster - Toa Payoh Vets Hamster care.   When To Decide on Anaesthesia and Surgery?   

"She put a white plastic bag on the examination table and took out a long blood collection bottle filled with yellowish white powder and two small plastic bottles of liquid medication for the hamster given to her from a veterinarian two days ago.  

The dwarf hamster moved a bit when necessary.  Dwarf hamsters do bite but this patient was lethargic and had no strength to fight back when I handled him by the neck.

"Was she still eating?" I asked.  
The young lady said, "Yes." But her mother interjected, "No!"

It was easy to find out. We parted the wood shavings in the hamster cage.  There was not one piece of hamster stool found.  So, mothers know best.

"Was the hamster drinking?"  I asked.  There was no need to ask. I pressed and pulled up the skin between the shoulder blades of the hamster. The skin formed a small hill indicating that the skin was not so supple as it had less water content. The hamster was not drinking much and was slightly dehydrated. 

So, what should be done to solve the hamster's problem?  Was there a solution in the first place?

There was solution. It was surgery to drain off the large swelling under the skin, filled with blood. This medical condition is known as a haematoma.    

Nowadays, every new client is a prospective litigant or complainant to the regulatory veterinary authority if the pet dies after seeing a veterinary surgeon.  

Much time would be needed to handle complaints and law suits.  Therefore, I could understand that the first veterinary surgeon was not keen to propose surgery.  The dwarf hamster could die during or after anaesthesia and surgery the next day. 

In this case, a lot of time was spent explaining the risk to the owner.  The hamster would die in the next few days as it was burdened by the heavy mass and had lost appetite. it seemed to have lost its zest for living.

It was either a slow death at home or a possible death on the operating table or the next day.  "You have to decide," I said. "Take your time." Haematoma in a dwarf hamster - Toa Payoh Vets

"I know my hamster will not live long," the young lady wiped her tears with a piece of tissue paper as she stroke the furry one-year-old lying sleepily amongst the wood shavings. 

She was correct.  But how would she know the prognosis, I wondered?  Unless she had medical training and knowledge. She could be a human doctor or nurse.  

This was an emotional situation.  The veterinary surgeon cannot advise anaesthesia and surgery as the chances of the hamster surviving is below 50%.  So why take the risk to dent a professional reputation built up with great difficulty over the years?  

It was obvious that surgery was in the best interest of the hamster.  Yet, it was dangerous to do it.  No veterinary surgeon wants to present the owner with a dead body on the operating table. 

The young lady made the decision to operate.  "I want to be present," she said.  

She should be permitted as she was a doctor.  But, I need to operate without distraction in a high death risk situation.  

It was not the distraction of a very good looking and slim lady.  I needed to observe the subtle signs of the hamster having just the correct dose of the anaesthetic gas to give me less than 60 seconds of pain-free time to drain the large amount of blood and remove the clots and a tumour. 

I could not afforded to be side-tracked by outsider's movements or answer any questions. A slip would mean immediate death for this dwarf hamster.  It was too small to be revived with oxygen and  emergency procedures unlike a dog or a cat when the heart failed under the general anaesthesia.    

The hamster was given the gas in a small chamber which was a plastic container. As its upper eyelids met the lower ones, I took it out, made a small "bikini" cut of around 1 cm long under the skin. I squeezed out the blood fast.  There was a blood clot and then a small tumour.

In less than 60 seconds, it woke up.  The owner was asked to come into the operating room.  The doctor said, "The hamster is grooming herself using her hands to clean off the blood. All will be well."  I hope she was correct.  And that the hamster will live to old age and be a joyful companion to her mum.  "It is best to examine the hamster daily to check for lumps and swelling on the lower part of the body" I advised the doctor who made the life-and-death decision for the hamster. 

She had apologised for being time-pressed and had not noticed the swelling much earlier.  Singapore's newly graduated doctors work extremely hours in the hospitals and they seldom have time even to rest in between several night shifts in a row. So, I could understand that she had no time to examine her hamster daily.    

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Revised: November 10, 2007

Community Education:  Be Kind To Pets

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