Gizmo's Abdominal Mass

Gizmo is a ferret who we have been seeing at AdelaideVet for many years.

For a very long time, she and her ferret friends were doing great at home and they had steered clear of any medical concerns.

In August 2019 though, Gizmo’s owner noticed she wasn’t well: her abdomen was getting bigger, her breathing was slightly laboured and she had developed a cough (as had 2 other ferrets at home).

Dr David Mason saw her in consult and could feel some sort of lump in her abdomen.

Her chest sounded OK at that point, though the mass was concerning, so she was admitted for an ultrasound.

Where-as most people having an ultrasound simply sit or lie down and have some gel on the area of interest, ultrasound for a ferret is a bit more involved. Gizmo had to be lightly sedated, hair clipped away from her tummy and intravenous access obtained.

Then we could do the ultrasound.

Dr Mason could see that the mass was probably of splenic origin (attached to the spleen) though there were a few other possible scenarios too. It was a big decision for Gizmo’s owner to go ahead with surgery to remove the mass, especially as she and the other ferrets had also been diagnosed with another viral infection at the time. Gizmo’s owner knew that the mass could bleed easily though and that without some sort of biopsy (tissue analysis) that we could not be sure if it was cancerous or not.

Not long after thinking this all through, Gizmo’s owner decided the mass needed to come out, so Dr Nick Male, ably supported by a great nursing team, removed the mass in theatre. We noticed another abnormality around Gizmo’s right adrenal gland at the time. We also noticed some adhesions between the loops of intestine, biopsy of this structure was deemed unsafe for Gizmo.  The adhesions, while interesting, did not affect her health and did not obstruct our ability to deal with the splenic mass.

Even though she was 8 years old at the time (quite old for a ferret), she recovered well and went home that evening. Her owner did a great job looking after her and she recovered fully from the surgery.

The mass on the spleen was analysed and ended up being benign, though if it were left in place it could easily have caused a fatal bleed to occur.

Gizmo’s owner was referred to seek more surgical opinions about whether her adrenal mass was operable and whether another surgery was in her best interests.

We wish her, her owner and her ferret mates all the best for the future.


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