Ruby The Hamster: Lumpectomy

We don’t often operate on patients who weigh just 30g.

Today, our brave little patient is an adorable hamster named Ruby. Her family noticed a lump growing along the right side of her body and scheduled a surgery with Dr Sarah Wong at Mount Pleasant Animal Clinic (East).

Little Ruby is well loved by Simone & family. When they brought her home more than a year ago, no one knew Ruby was already pregnant. She gave birth to twins.

Little Ruby is well loved by Simone & family. When they brought her home more than a year ago, no one knew Ruby was already pregnant. She gave birth to twins.

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Dr Sarah Wong will perform a lumpectomy to remove the lump. Unlike dogs and cats, regurgitation is seldom a concern for rodents so it is not necessary to withhold food or water prior to surgery.

In rodents, the ratio of their body surface area to body mass is greater than larger species like dogs or cats. They lose  body heat rapidly. It is critical to keep Ruby warm during and after surgery to prevent hypothermia and ensure she recovers well from anaesthesia.

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Rodent anaesthesia is challenging because of the animal’s size, metabolic rate & risk of hypothermia. Anaesthetics for rodents can be administered as an inhalant or injected. The most common inhalant anaesthetic used for rodents is isoflurane. A toe pinch will verify if the animal is deeply anaesthetised before proceeding with surgery.

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Surgical preparation includes anaesthesia induction, clipping of hair & scrubbing.

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To prevent hypothermia, we avoid wetting too large an area during the surgical scrub. Ruby is also placed on a heating pad to keep her warm throughout the procedure.

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Dr Sarah Wong of Mount Pleasant Animal Clinic (East) has a special interest in exotic pets, particularly rabbits & rodents.

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Rodent surgery is a delicate procedure. The surgeon has to be very gentle & careful to avoid unnecessary trauma to the tissues.

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After the lump is removed, the incision site is closed with non-absorbable sutures which will be removed when the wound is healed, usually within 7 to 10 days.

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The lump, measuring about 1cm long, will be sent to the laboratory for histological diagnosis. Lumps on the chest & abdomen in females are commonly mammary tumours which can be benign or malignant.

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Dr Wong administers post-operative analgesics (painkillers) & antibiotics to reduce pain & discomfort from the surgery.

If your hamster just had surgery, watch out for signs of pain:
  • Refuse to eat, drink or groom
  • Unwilling to move, hunched up posture
  • Redness and swelling at incision site
  • Excessive licking or scratching, self-mutilation
  •  Squealing, teeth grinding, twitching, tremors, weakness
  • Laboured breathing

Shortly after Ruby is awake, she started to groom herself. Ruby is kept warm in her cage lined with soft paper bedding to prevent irritation to the surgical site. 

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Because Ruby is a feisty little gal & started meddling with the stitches, Dr Audrey Loi made a little fibreglass body cast to keep her surgical site clean!

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The fibreglass body cast is kept in place with elastoplast.

Ruby’s family will monitor her closely for the next few days to make sure she is alert, active and eating. We will see Ruby in a week’s time for review. But before that, Ruby will like you to meet one of her beautiful twins, Rebecca. And her lovely guardians who show us that animals, great or small, all deserve to be loved!

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Hannah & Logan with Ruby’s daughter Rebecca!

March 2017: snowy’s lumpectomy

21-gram Snowy the Roborovski hamster had a lump on her right elbow. Dr Sarah Wong performed a successful lumpectomy. Click here to watch Snowy racing on her favourite flying saucer just days after the surgery.

Lump on Snowy’s right elbow

After a successful lumpectomy, Snowy was monitored closely to make sure she recovered from anaesthesia, with no problems, before going home.

Keep your hamsters warm & quiet after surgery. Usually they are back to their normal selves by the next day.

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