Q. My 12 year old Border Collie/healer mix has a baseball size hematoma under her chest. I am wondering if she would survive the surgery.
DR. CHRISTIE LONG, D.V.M., C.V.A.
A. My first question (if you could answer me back) would be how does anyone know it's a hematoma, and not a hemangiosarcoma or a hemangioma? Hematomas usually resolve (eventually) on their own - they're essentially bruises. So they don't need to be surgically removed, typically. It could also be a hemangioma, which is a benign growth arising from a blood vessel. Typically no one can tell on cytology alone (that's a needle sample taken from the mass and examined under a microscope) whether a growth like this is cancerous (hemangiosarcoma, or HSA) or benign (hemangioma, or HA). If a biopsy has been done and a diagnosis of HSA has been made, or it's a HA and it's causing your dog pain or discomfort, then I would agree that surgery is necessary.
As to whether she would survive the surgery, if your vet is competent in anesthesia (preoperative blood work and chest x-rays have been done to ensure that your dog is healthy otherwise, anesthetic monitoring on blood pressure, heart rate, EKG, oxygenation, etc will be done) and the mass is in a spot that is amenable to removal (i.e. There is plenty of skin in the area to close over the defect created by the excision) then I would say her chances of survival are very good. All this is assuming that the mass is subcutaneous (under the skin) and not actually inside the chest. If it's in the chest, that's a much more serious procedure. You can select "consult" if you want to talk about this further.
DR. TRISTAN WILHELM, DVM
A. This is a very complicated question and the answer depends on many factors. This would be best to ask you veterinarian and discuss your specific concerns.