Highly skilled surgery at a leading Scottish veterinary referral centre has remarkably seen two huge chest masses removed from a cat and a dog within just 24 hours of each other. 

It’s incredibly rare for surgeons at Linnaeus-owned Veterinary Specialists Scotland (VSS) in Livingston to see such extreme masses in pets, both of which were taking up about 70 per cent of the space within the patients’ chest cavities, let alone two in the space of a single day. 

In both cases, the masses were so big they were causing severe compression of the lungs and heart, however, the challenging operations were a complete success and both patients are now back home with their grateful owners. 

Lois, a five-year-old cat, was the first of the two pets to be seen by specialists at VSS, who removed her thymoma (a malignant tumour of the thymus gland), which was taking up more than two thirds of her thoracic cavity. 

Lois’s owner, Hannah Dewar from South Queensferry, said: “We were very worried as it was a big operation and the mass was huge, plus we thought her lungs were compromised. 

“The care she received was excellent and she is now recovering well. You wouldn’t know she had been through major surgery and had such a huge mass removed if it wasn’t for her bald spots!”  

Investigations prior to surgery were led by Nicki Reed, feline and internal medicine specialist, with the operation being performed by Sam Woods, clinical director and soft tissue surgeon at VSS.

Clinical director Sam said: “The surgery was challenging as the large mass was closely attached to the cranial vena cava, the major vessel that returns blood from the head back to the heart and it required very delicate dissection from this. 

“The mass was removed en bloc and, following the successful surgery, Lois has made an amazing recovery. Her owners say she’s doing great, and it is difficult to keep her quiet!” 

Incredibly, Nicki and Sam barely had time to catch their breath before they were called back into action to save the life of a 12-year-old Jack Russell Terrier called Skip, who had almost identical symptoms to that of Lois, although in Skip’s case the tumour was affecting his lung

Such was the seriousness of Skip’s health, his owner Katie McLaughlin from Barlanark in Glasgow, took him for a walk along his favourite beach with her family three days before the operation, believing it could be for the last time. 

Katie said: “Skip is our world and to think this could possibly be the end was heartbreaking. 

“We were very worried and our main concern was that he is a senior dog and the surgery would be too big for him.

“Just four days after the surgery, he was full of beans and it’s like having young Skip back. The team at VSS saved our dog’s life and we will be forever grateful.” 

Sam added: “Skip’s surgery was also extremely challenging due to the size of the mass and the access we had to it. 

“It also presented its own problems to our anaesthesia team, who had to keep a close eye on the compression of the lungs and heart. 

“I’m very happy to report the operation was a success. Skip recovered well and was allowed home two days after surgery. Now he’s back with his owners and is acting like a puppy again!” 

VSS is a specialist-led multidisciplinary referral centre offering industry-leading services in cardiology, dermatology, internal medicine (feline and canine), neurology, orthopaedics, and soft tissue surgery, supported by specialists in diagnostic imaging and anaesthesia and analgesia. 

For more information about VSS and the services it offers, visit www.vetscotland.co.uk or search for Veterinary Specialists Scotland on social media. 

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