Friday, May 18, 2012

1004. Update on old Beagle with bladder cancer


998. Sunday's interesting case. An old Beagle drips lots of reddish brown urine

Sunday May 13, 2012

I was at the Surgery in the morning and saw a large amount of reddish brown urine drops in the waiting and consultation room. Dr Daniel was consulting with the owners and Mr Min was mopping the floor a few times. If I were Dr Daniel, I would restrain the dog on the consultation table but each vet does his own thing and so this situation led to bloody urine every where. I mean, if the waiting room was full, the other clients would be most unhappy trying to avoid stepping on bloodied urine on the floor in a small waiting room of Toa Payoh Vets.

This is what I mean by "common sense" in a vet who handles a case.  Restrict the dog's movement or crate him. I did my trust and audit in this case handled by Dr Daniel to improve the process of consultation and consistency of practice.

The X-ray showed around 6 small radio-opaque stones of around 4 mm x 6 mm and other sizes. Dr Daniel said were unlikely to cause so much bladder bleeding. Each vet has his own opinion and so that is life.

(May 19, 2012 - RETROSPECTIVE REVIEW - Dog had been operated by me and had a large adenocarcinoma of the bladder. The blood clots were dark red black and green and were from the degenerating cancerous cells of the adenocarcinoma)

I disagreed with him as there was one stone with a sharp edge, like a dagger.  This sharp stone swished about inside the bladder would have stabbed the bladder mucosa and cause bleeding. "This is not chronic cystitis," Dr Daniel disagreed with me. "The blood in the urine occurred only 2 weeks ago." This was a difference of opinion.

(May 19, 2012 - RETROSPECTIVE REVIEW - Dog had been operated by me and had a large adenocarcinoma of the bladder)

An old Beagle. Likely to be a bladder carcinoma as well.  Dr Daniel advised ultrasound and surgery with high anaesthetic risks of death on the op table. Since the dog's red blood cells were low, his opinion was that this dog would not survive the operation. So what to do? The consultation took more than 30 minutes and he was still talking.

(May 19, 2012 review. In my opinion, ultrasound adds to cost and will not help to resolve this dog's problem. The newly graduated vet has been taught by the professors to go for more and more tests to confirm a diagnosis of cancer. In practice, he must know what to do in an old dog with cancer, not asking for more tests as many owners prefer to have lower veterinary costs. In this case, blood and urine tests and an X-ray of one view had been done. The X-ray was average quality and an air-contrast X-ray of the bladder would be preferred)

I intervened by entering the consultation room which had a bloodied floor now. I said to the couple: "Basically, you have two options. Consent to an operation and know the high risks and get the stones removed. If there is cancer of the bladder, give us consent to euthanase the dog during surgery. The other option is to medicate and euthanase the dog when the drugs don't work as she is suffering from pain and incontinence. In the meantime, get the dog on the IV drip, painkillers and antibiotics for at least one day and before surgery."

Vets can't afford the luxury of time on a busy Sunday morning to handle a case for more than 30 minutes unless it is necessary. Other clients have to wait a longer time. Owners of hospitalised dogs need to be called. The sick dogs need to be checked and there are many things to do. So, it is not possible to keep on talking while the old Beagle keeps on dripping.

In any case, the pressures of having to provide affordable veterinary costs v. high overheads of operating expenses and increase government regulatory payments mean that not much time can be spent on having long consultations per owner. All employee and associate vets have to be aware of the high financial aspects of running a veterinary surgery and not just how much they get paid.


The longer the surgical procedure, the higher the possibility of complications of death on the operating table. I told Dr Daniel and the owner that I would be operating on this high risk old dog with seizures. The wife did not want euthanasia even if an inoperable cancer was found. There was an inoperable cancer in the bladder. I excised as much as I could of the cancer.

As at May 18, 2012, the dog was eating and had peed clearer urine. I had not expected this old dog with seizures to survive a 2-hour surgery. Dr Daniel was collaborating with me while I operated to excise the tumour near the neck of the bladder. There was no way I could complete such a bladder cancer excision in 30 minutes. The couple took the high risks to consent to an operation. It was a surprise to me that this dog survived.


5297 - 5303.

Bladder cancer surgery in an old Beagle

Proper pre-surgical treatment and planning gave this old dog the best chance of survival on the operating table. It is not a given that all old dogs will survive as many of them have poor health.


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