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Recovery after MastCell Tumour Removal

Discussion in 'Dog Health issues and questions' started by kaygee, Aug 20, 2011.

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  1. kaygee

    kaygee Boxer Pal

    Aug 19, 2011
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    Hi everyone,

    I wondered if anyone else had experience with their beloved Boxer having MCT. It would be great to hear from other owners who have gone through, or are going through what we are experiencing at the moment.

    Willis is our 5 year old Boxer, and he is a star. About 2 months ago we noticed a lump on his left hind left leg, at the top of his thigh. Some days it doubled in size, and other days it was hardly noticeable. So to be safe we took Willis to see his vet. She took a sample from the lump and sent it off for testing.

    Then the bad news arrived, Willis had a cancerous tumour, there were cells in the lump that indicated this and we were referred to the Animal Health Trust.

    Willis was in for treatment within 2 weeks and he had the tumour removed. The way it was removed seemed very sensible. They looked at the size of the tumour, and then cut around the tumour with a 3cm margin, so basically Willis had a piece of skin removed that was around the size of a small tea-saucer, so quite a large amount removed. The vet attempted to stitch the wound closed using 'spare skin' from Willis' inner thigh and for the first few days it looked really good.

    However this was short lived. It was evident that the skin was stretched way too tight, and even though he was kept as quiet as possible and hardly allowed to move anywhere, the stitches began to split.... back to the AHT to sort him out.

    I was shocked at what happened next. The wound debridement was performed with Willis asleep, and he has been left with a completely open wound approximately 5 inches by 3 inches with the muscular tissue open to see.

    Willis has been like this for almost 2 weeks now, and every day he has his dressing changed. We pack it with swabs and have to tie them in place with loop stitches that have been sewn onto Willis leg. He is still very restricted as to what he is allowed to do, only allowed very quick 5 minute slow walks, 3 times a day, just enough to do his toilet.

    He is constantly wearing a buster collar - and he is even wearing pairs of my husbands old underpants that have been readjusted to fit his legs and waist (bless him - he is a sight to see)! But they really help keeping the dressing in place and stop him getting to it... His nature hasn't changed that much, he knows he is being restricted from playing and running around, and wonders why he wears what he is wearing.... my heart reaches out to him every time those big brown eyes look at me and ask "Why Mummy?" "Why can't I run in the garden?" "Why do I need to stay in my bed all day?"

    So I would love to hear from other owners that are unlucky enough to have gone through this with their dog, and what we are going to encounter.
    How long will it take to heal? What can we expect when the wound is healing? What will it look like? How is your dog now?

    Any advice would be great, all we want is for Willis to be well

    Thanks you x x
  2. tasham

    tasham Boxer Booster

    Jun 16, 2007
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    Hi Kaygee,

    So sorry to hear about your Willis! Poor thing. It's so hard to try to keep a Boxer down and quiet. They just want to play and run. One of my Boxers had a large tumor removed from his thigh a couple years ago, and the incision site was large. We had to have it resutured after all the stitches busted. Then they busted again, and they finally had to staple it shut to keep it from busting open again. It healed eventually that way, and the staples were removed about 10 days after that, but it was quite an ordeal. He still has a very large scar where it was where hair has never completely grown in, but because he is a brindle, it's very hard to notice.

    I'm not sure if stapling it is an option, but it was the only thing that worked for us. Those deep and wide wounds take some time to heal, but I'm sure it will heal up eventually.

    Best of luck on his recovery and I hope your Willis is back to running around and playing in no time!
  3. Cami

    Cami Boxer Insane

    Sep 7, 2003
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    It isn't uncommon at all for a MCT surgical site to have issues with healing. Also common for stitches and or staples to rip/tear from the skin they are connected to. MCT's contain histamine and it weakens healthy tissue....the very same tissue that is required to close a surgical site.

    Seems VERY odd TO ME (I am not a vet) that they would remove skin from the inner thigh to use in an attempt to close a wound on the outer thigh. In fact I have never heard of such a thing! Sounds good in theory and in humans skin is actually grown on the body to be of aid for various types of surgeries. There again, I am not a vet nor do I have any type of medical training but typically in "flap" surgeries they utilize skin "nearby" but keep it attached to its original blood source and then pull (flap) it over an incision in an attempt to complete a wound closure. Just because I have never heard of it doesn't mean it doesn't happen (just putting that out there).

    At minimum your vet should have suggested you use some type of antihistamine after ALL mast cell removal. Pretty standard protocol (at least here in the US).

    My girl had over 16 mast cell tumors in her lifetime. Many that were removed surgically and of those two resulted with additional trips back to the vets office for a recheck of the incision. Either the stitches ripped out/tore or the tissue was just too weak to support adequate healing. Once an antihistamine was introduced subsequent surgeries fared far better than those previous ones without. None were ever left with an open wound. You may need to visit with a wound care specialist if you don't see any progress in the next few days. Two weeks seems like TOO LONG of a time and too much of a chance with infection risk than I personally would be comfortable with. You didn't mention how the healing process was going so I am only assuming it isn't much better??
  4. Tuff Love

    Tuff Love Boxer Insane

    Jun 18, 2007
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    Sorry Willis has to go through this. My boy had a number of MCTs and other lumps removed over his lifetime, and one lump in particular was an absolute nightmare to heal. Like Willis's, it was on the thigh, but on the low end closer to the joint. You can see here (after it was healed)

    Loose skin there is pretty much non existent, and the vet warned us that to get clean margins, the wound would be large. Well they weren't kidding- it was HUGE! We also has issues with stitches popping, and they had no luck with staples because they couldn't get the skin close enough together. What they ended up having to do was put relief cuts on each side of the wound- 6 of them! I was mortified. Not only did my boy have this giant central gaping wound, he had 6 tiny holes with exposed flesh surrounding it! They then stitches the wound as best as they could but the flesh was still very much exposed as the stitches only took towards the top and bottom of the wound. We had to flush it out daily and rub a cream on it that was supposed to promote rapid tissue growth (the name escapes me). Anyways, it was a long road to recovery. It took about 3 full months for that fleshy area to "fill in" with new skin. As you can see from the photo, it was about a 2 inch gap where the flesh was most exposed. My boy was left with a horrible giant scar, but it did eventually heal.. very very slowly. Good luck!
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