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July 30, 2020

Toa Payoh Vets Clinical Research
Making veterinary surgery alive
to a veterinary student studying in Australia
using real case studies and pictures

The Hamster Has A "Boxing Glove" Wart
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
Case written: 15 June 2009
30 July, 2020 |

"No paw amputation," the young lady was adamant during her first consultation with me. Therefore, I deep-froze the wart partially over 3 days so as not to compromise the blood supply. This is where the application of anatomy was practised. Without the knowledge of anatomy, the vet would deep freeze 100% of the wart at one session, killing off all blood vessel cells as well as the tumour.

Well, if the wart is as small as 3 mm across, 100% of deep-freezing in one session does not compromise the blood supply to the paw. But this hamster's wart grew from both sides of the front right paw and even enveloped below the paw. There was only 3 mm of dorsal part of the paw that was normal skin. Warts are common in hamsters, the average Singapore hamster owner is usually reluctant to seek veterinary treatment due to economics mainly.

In this case, surgical excision by paw amputation will resolve all problems for the owner. No front right paw means no wart recurrence.

In considering surgery, know the blood supply to the surgical site. Vet students will find that "anatomy becomes alive" if only the elderly Anatomy Professor can illustrate with real cases using videos, instead of droning on with the boring lecture notes on various branches of the blood supply to the paw, making the students sleep.

I was one who found it hard to stay awake during my Anatomy lectures at Glasgow University some 40 years ago. There was no internet to view cases. The Glasgow Library had books which were dusty and brown and were probably 100 years old. But now, students are so fortunate to live in the Golden Age of the Internet. 

Back from digression, in this hamster, I used cryosurgery. CRYOSUGERY is the use of extreme cold to destroy abnormal tissues such as tumours. I sprayed liquid Nitrogen onto the tumour to freeze and kill the tumour cells.

I had deep frozen the front paw wart in two sessions so as to preserve the blood circulation. The cost to the owner was high due to the need to hospitalise the hamster for more than 14 days to be given nursing and medication.

  Right fore paw gigantic wart and granuloma. Dwarf Hamster. 1year+. Toa Payoh Vets    
  Dwarf Hamster. Gigantic wart-like growth on top and bottom of right front paw. Toa Payoh Vets Right fore paw gigantic wart and granuloma. Dwarf Hamster. 1year+. Toa Payoh Vets  
Deep freezing the wart. Right Fore Paw. Dwarf Hamster. One year.Toa Payoh Vets, Singapore Deep freezing the wart. Right Fore Paw. Dwarf Hamster. One year.Toa Payoh Vets, Singapore
Deep freezing the wart. Right Fore Paw. Dwarf Hamster. One year.Toa Payoh Vets, Singapore Deep Freezing Shrinks Dwarf Hamster Wart. But will it recur? Toa Payoh Vets

So when the wart re-grew in less than 2 months, it was understandable that the owner went to the pet shop to buy a tube of cream. But the wart just exploded and once again, the hamster looked as if he had put on a boxing glove on his right fore paw.

For the average owner, $260 that had been paid for the first surgery and hospitalisation would be a princely sum to spend on treatment of a hamster. Why? A new hamster costs $5.00 or is free of charge.

Therefore, in the second surgery, I deep-frozed 100% of the wart in one session. The wart disappeared by Day 3. 100%. My assistant was impressed. The paw had shrunk by over 80% within 3 days. But the blood supply had been compromised. It had become a black paw with white nails at the end. Soon it would become a stump. There would be no more normal paw.

However, the hamster was OK, eating and running around in the cage. It went home soon. There would not be any recurrence as the paw had shrivelled to a gangrenous hook. It would drop off in a few days' time.  The hamster was active and eating and hence fit to go home.

The owner asked: "Did you cut off part of his paw?" I pointed to the black paw with white finger nails, "I did not cut off the paw. Look at the black foot. Its blood supply had been compromised due to the 100% deep freezing of the "boxing glove' wart. Therefore the paw had shrunk and appeared cut away!"  

In my practice, such gigantic "boxing glove" warts are rare in dwarf hamsters. Therefore, I am writing this report to share my findings with the vet students and hope that when they have to study Anatomy of the Paw, they can relate to this case.

Vet students: Do you know which blood vessels supplying the paw had been "deep frozen" causing gangrene of the paw?  Check out your anatomy book. Your lecturer may just test you on the blood supply to the paw during the examination. Be prepared.     

Dwarf Hamster, Paw wart re-appears. Singapore. Toa Payoh Vets
100% deep freeze dwarf hamster's wart at one time results in shrinkage of 100% wart. Toa Payoh Vets Right fore paw wart has shrunk. Day 10 of Deep freezing. Hamster active. Goes home.  Toa Payoh Vets

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