tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)TOA PAYOH VETS

Date:   13 September, 2008
Focus: Small animals - dogs, cats, hamsters & rabbits

*10 a.m - 5 p.m (Mon - Sun, except Sat). Dr Sing Kong Yuen. 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
11 p.m to 6 a.m
Dr Teo
9668-6469, 6254-3326
Fax: +65 6256 0501
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Making veterinary surgery alive
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using real case studies and pictures


Older Dwarf Hamster. 1.5years. Check belly daily for small tumours. Toa Payoh Vets"My hamster has been slow in exercising on his wheel for the past 2 weeks," the young slim lady said. "Then I noticed this big tumour in his belly."  The young pharmacist was busy at work and time-pressed and so had not noticed such a gigantic tumour. 

"It is extremely hard to find sufficient skin to stitch up after removal of such a big tumour," I could see that the tumour of nearly 1 cm in diameter was half as large as the hamster's head. How to stitch up the wound if the tumour is removed?

Not forgetting that the hamster might just die on the operating table due to stress of surgery and anaesthesia. The tumour had ulcerated and there was some bleeding as the hamster dragged it over the floor and bedding when he walked. Friction broke the protective skin barrier and bacteria and other germs had now entered into the body. 

"What if I just leave the tumour alone?" the lady asked. After all, the hamster was still eating and looked all right. This bright-eyed hamster was slim and active.

"Your hamster will get infection inside the tumour. He will stop eating and drinking. His eyes will become closed as sticky pus from the infections closed his eyelids. He becomes dehydrated and then dies a painful death."

There was really no choice for the hamster. If the surgery was successful, he would get to live and enjoy freedom from the burden of carrying a heavy tumour. If not, he would be dead on the day he visited the vet.

What should the young lady do? Has she got a choice?  She consented to the surgery understanding the high risks involved. Now my problem was how to get the tumour removed and yet have some skin to stitch up the wound. Otherwise the wound may get infected as this young lady did not know how to handle the hamster post-surgery.
Older Dwarf Hamster. 1.5years. Check belly daily for small tumours. Toa Payoh VetsThe tumour was removed successfully as it was under the skin. I decided on a cruciate cut on the skin. In this procedure, I cut two crosses and undermined the skin to expose the tumour. Then I popped out the fat-like tumour.

There was some pieces of skin for me to stitch up the wound. 

However, not all hamster tumours lie under the skin and can be popped out so easily. There was a lot of bleeding when this tumour was removed. The hamster woke up from the light gaseous anaesthesia and started to clean himself. His mouth was covered with blood. He was stressed as he closed his eyes and tried to lick off the fresh red blood covering his whole lower body.
Older Dwarf Hamster. 1.5years. Check belly daily for small tumours. Toa Payoh Vets Older Dwarf Hamster. 1.5years. Check belly daily for small tumours. Toa Payoh Vets
Tumour extracted out from above the muscle layers after separating the skin Hamster's wound stitched with 5/0 absorbable stitches
  Older Dwarf Hamster. 1.5years. Check belly daily for small tumours. Toa Payoh Vets
  A plaster protects the wound from dirt and the hamster's teeth biting. If the plaster stays 14 days, the wound should be healed well. No sand bath for 14 days.

I put him back into the anaesthetic container and he went to sleep. I used a wet tissue to clean up the blood. Stitched up the wound with 5/0 absorbable suture. The bleeding soon stopped. The hamster woke up fast as he was under very short anaesthesia. He started to mouth his wound and stitches. My assistant held him while I put a bandage over his belly. He did not like it but could not get rid of it.

Older Dwarf Hamster. 1.5years. Check belly daily for small tumours. Toa Payoh VetsThen he went to the exercise wheel to do his usual run. Most hamsters do that after surgery.

However, the bandage round his belly and up the sides got into the way. Well, it was better than having a gigantic tumour. He could not exercise and rolled down. Exhausted. Could not get up for a few seconds.
I put him inside the cage in a dark warm room to recover and phoned his owner to come and bring him home.

The lady arrived. I advised her that she had to nurse the hamster. "Check and clean the wound daily if the bandage is taken out by the hamster," I said. She looked apprehensive. What is the hamster bite her?

"You can wear the gloves from the Pharmacy when handling the hamster," I said as she hesitated in handling the hamster with her bare hand now.

"The Pharmacy's gloves are ineffective to prevent biting," she said. My assistant wore two cotton gloves as he was bitten by other hamsters when he wore one. Hamsters have very sharp teeth and their bites draw blood from Mr Saw's finger. 

"Use the cotton face towel," I suggested. "Fold the towel into two and hold the hamster inside. Get a friend to help you when you clean the wound. No more sand bath for 2 weeks. Use paper towels instead of the bedding to keep the hamster clean"

The lady, in her late twenties, nodded. I don't know how she would cope with the post-surgical nursing. If she did not do a good job, there would be a really big hole in the hamster's belly and he might die from infection.  

Spend time to examine him daily. His lower body is seldom seen by the time-pressed owner. Small tumours are easily removed but large tumours may take up so much skin. There may be insufficient skin to stitch up and cover the wound. 



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