"The right paw shrinks and swells over the past month," the fair complexion young lady held the 15-month-old hamster in the palm of her hand for me to examine.
This is an uncommon case. The right paw had a plastic bag of light yellow fluid.
"What is the cause?" she asked.
"It is probably an embedded foreign body," I noted that the right paw was inflamed because the hamster had been trying to lick away the cyst. Whenever the cyst was broken by bites, it shrank. Then the bite wound closed and the cyst swells again.
So is there a permanent cure?
I advised the young couple: "It is difficult to know what is the exact cause. I have to cut the cyst under anaesthesia, check for abnormal tissue and and drain away the contents inside it. Hopefully, the foreign body -- probably a splinter would be removed."
I used a small sized scalpel blade to cut the cyst from toe to over the wrist for a length of 1 cm. There would be no point doing a small cut as the cyst would form again. Yellowish fluid shot out. It would be 1 ml but seemed to be 3 ml as the fluid scattered onto the operating table.
"This hamster is overweight," I was worried about the high risk of anaesthesia in plump pets. The hamster also had a red wart below the left paw. So, there would be two surgeries in one.
5% issoflurane gas anaesthesia using a plastic container enclosing the dwarf hamster was sufficient to prevent pain. "Don't wait for this hamster to close the eyelids," I said to my assistant. "By then, it would be dead." Fat hamsters are very high risk. The owner expected nothing but a hamser alive at the end of the day.
The surgical anaesthesia seen in the dog and cat cannot be observed in hamster anaesthesia. However, the pedal reflex was present in the case when the anaesthesia was lighter than needed. The hamster just pulled back its front paw as I incised. More gas for less than 5 seconds. Repeat. Incise. Cleaned up wound.
The surprising finding was a large vein from the left to the right across the carpus. Could there be an obstruction of this vein, leading to exudate from the vein into the subcutaneous tissue, causing a big cyst to form?
The wart was easily removed. Lots of bleeding but not life threatening.
The hamster seemed much more active after its right paw was back to normal size. I did not stitch up the wound. The skin was reddish and soft. "Just use a facial cotton and clean warm water to clean the wound," I advised when the gentleman asked whether he should use saline. Hamsters don't like saline or dettol onto its body.
I advised not giving the bread to reduce the weight of the hamster. Worm meals and sunflower seeds should be cut down too. 64 grams should be reduced to 54 grams for this dwarf hamster.