Some Things Never Get Old

I’ve been practicing veterinary medicine a long time now. I’ve seen a lot. Most things that come through the hospital door are not a surprise. But, one thing about this profession, cases can still amaze me.

A week ago, a sweet ten year old cat came in with a very bloated belly. At first glance, this could be a number of things. The history of the kitty came up with a very important fact. This cat was not spayed. Physical examination revealed that the cat had a discharge from its rear end. Preliminary diagnosis? Pyometra, otherwise known as a uterine infection.

Pyometras are life threatening conditions for both dogs and cats. The uterus fills up with pus. Anitbiotics are largely unsuccessful in treating this. The treatment of choice is surgery to remove the uterus, which is tricky as we are operating on an animal with a massive infection that may affect all major body systems. In order to save the animal, the surgery has to be done.

This particular kitty stayed in the hospital for bloodwork and radiographs. The radiograph revealed an enormous amount of fluid in the abdomen. It was so much that the intestines and other organs were literally squeezed into one small area. I have never seen a uterus that big in a small pet. The bloodwork was consistent with an infection, so we were a go with surgery.

The cat was anesthetized and prepped for surgery. Her abdomen was like a water balloon. I was worried about puncturing the huge organ when I incised the skin. I didn’t. Whew. After opening the abdominal wall, the enormous uterus was easily identified, but not that easily removed due to size. After gentle manipulation the infected organ and cystic ovaries were removed, the cat was closed up and went to recovery.

So you might wonder what was different about this from any other pyometra surgery I have done in thirty four years?  The proportion of the uterus to the body of the cat was simply unbelievable. The cat weighed 9.5 lbs prior to surgery. I removed a 4.2 lb uterus. Yes, the organ was 44% of the animal’s body weight. Amazing. My main concern at that time was the balance of body fluid that was lost during surgery. IV fluids, pain medication and antibiotics were given. The next morning, the patient was up dancing and begging for breakfast. Wow! Everybody in the hospital was so happy!

And, yes, I was excited. At home, I called or emailed many of my veterinarian friends. They all love a good story about a nice save. That part never gets old.