Dave presented with a firm swelling on his neck which we at first thought was a growth, possibly cancerous.

We decided to take an aspirate using a needle and found that the swelling was actually full of clear fluid. We sent the fluid to a pathologist who examined it under the microscope and confirmed that it had come from a cystic structure but couldn’t be certain about the diagnosis or prognosis (outlook).

Eventually the cyst recurred and we decided to operate on it. It was a tricky procedure as the structure proved to be intimately associated with the arteries, veins and nerves in the neck so we carefully had to dissect it out. It eventually came out in one piece with part of the thyroid gland on that side and we sent the whole cyst to the pathologist for analysis (histology). This is where they embed the growth in wax, freeze it in liquid nitrogen, slice it very thinly with a microtome, stain the tissue and examine it under a microscope.

The growth proved to be a THYROID CYSTADENOMA. These are completely benign cystic tumours coming from the thyroid gland so Dave is going to live happily ever after. These are quite rare but there are other, similar cysts that can occur in this area that are less nice e.g. parathyroid cancers. Sometimes surgery to remove such structures can result in nerve damage or damage to the parathyroids causing calcium balance problems. Fortunately Dave made a full recovery, healed well and there were no post-operative complications. This was a really interesting case.

If you find any abnormal lumps on your pet please don’t hesitate to come and see us. We can usually do simple tests to find out what the growth is; to help us to decide whether surgery or treatment is necessary and, if so, to help us make a surgical plan. We can successfully treat most lumps provided we deal with them early enough. If left some lumps can become cancerous and spread to other parts of the body. It is really important that we deal with any growths as quickly as possibly, preferably whilst they are small and before they cause your pet any problems.