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Conditions Casper's Medical Thread: lesion on testicle

LittleSqueakers

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Well, I've had my little men 2 months and we've already run into our first medical issue.

Last Thursday, I noticed that Casper (formerly Avery) was having significant redness and a little swelling in his left testicle. At the time, it just looked like irritation, like it might have been an abrasion or something and he wasn't showing any sign of pain, so I made a vet appointment for the following day and decided to monitor until then. We went to the vet last Friday and by then it looked like there was possibly an abscess or something forming in the scrotum surrounding the testicle. The vet put him on SMZ and metacam to see how he did over the weekend and told me to bring him back Monday for a recheck.

I split the cage when I got home from the vet. Friday night, Casper clearly wasn't himself. Saturday morning, I saw that he hadn't eaten as much as I would have liked overnight, so I gave him a serving of critical care with his morning meds. When I got home from work Saturday afternoon, he seemed to be feeling a lot better. I picked him up to check him over, and the area on the testicle seemed to have ruptured and was draining a little. Over the weekend, the swelling and redness decreased and I thought I could see a small pus-pocket inside the abscessed area.

Monday evening, we went back to the vet for a recheck. Dr. Huong agreed that the inflammation looked better, but was concerned that this was not a typical abscess. She sent pictures to the clinic's other exotic veterinarian, Dr. Ashley, and a few colleagues, and they all agreed that this thing -- whatever it is -- doesn't look normal and it needs to come off. So Casper's scheduled for a neuter with a scrotal ablation tomorrow.

So here we are. At present, Casper seems to be feeling really good overall. I split the cage last Friday after we got home from the first vet visit and I'm keeping it split for the time being. He's still on SMZ twice daily, followed by a "poop soup" probiotic, courtesy of his cagemate, Poptart (formerly Andrew). I've saving the rest of the metacam for after the surgery since he doesn't seem to be in any pain at present. I'm supplementing an extra 25mg vitamin C daily. I'm also supplementing a small serving of critical care twice a day to go with his meds. Although he's eating normally on his own and his stools are plentiful and normal, Casper's been underweight and struggled to gain weight since I brought him home. He's been gaining weight since last Friday since I've split the cage and been feeding CC, so I decided to keep at it to try and get him into good health status in the days leading up to the surgery.

I guess the two questions I have right now are these:

1.) The vets strongly recommend that we send off for a biopsy, but it's a huge chunk of the cost of the surgery. Can anyone with any experience in the area of having mysterious lesions removed tell me if a biopsy is worth the cost?

2.) Should I feed him his CC with his meds the morning of the surgery? Or would it be better that he doesn't have too much food in him when he's under anesthesia? (Don't worry; I know not to withhold food entirely from a guinea pig.)
 

bpatters

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You can feed him normally until about 2-3 hours before the surgery. Guinea pigs can't vomit, which is the reason for not eating before surgery, but they can regurgitate anything that hasn't made it all the way down to the stomach. So you don't want him to have food in his mouth or esophagus while he's under anesthesia.

As far as the biopsy goes, I'd want to know what kind of treatment they would recommend based on what it turns out to be. If it turns out to be malignant, would they recommend chemo, and would you follow that recommendation? If it's an abscess of some sort, would they even need to have a biopsy?

How old is Casper?
 

LittleSqueakers

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You can feed him normally until about 2-3 hours before the surgery. Guinea pigs can't vomit, which is the reason for not eating before surgery, but they can regurgitate anything that hasn't made it all the way down to the stomach. So you don't want him to have food in his mouth or esophagus while he's under anesthesia.

As far as the biopsy goes, I'd want to know what kind of treatment they would recommend based on what it turns out to be. If it turns out to be malignant, would they recommend chemo, and would you follow that recommendation? If it's an abscess of some sort, would they even need to have a biopsy?

How old is Casper?

He's maybe 5 months at the oldest.

I should clarify: I've been referring to it as an "abscess" because I don't have any experience with skin conditions, and to me, it superficially appears to be an "abscess". The vets don't really seem to think it's an abscess at all. They seem to suspect something more along the lines of a tumor in the scrotal tissue (which is why they're doing the scrotal ablation).

Casper was a rescue from a hoarding situation in which the previous owner was a "breeder" of guinea pigs and rabbits. There's honestly no telling what kind of genetic misfit I might have picked up here. I've definitely had the impression since just a few weeks after I adopted him that he may not be the healthiest member of his species. He's a happy enough little fellow, but he's just been struggling to thrive.

I think I'll go ahead and pay for the biopsy. I would like to know what this thing is, because that's going to affect what I decide to do with him as far as future vet care. I have a veterinary fund for my pigs, but it is limited. I can't afford to continuously remove tumors off him if they recur frequently and I doubt I could afford chemo if it's malignant. But knowing what it is could help me assess my options.

Wish us luck!
 

bpatters

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Do keep us posted about what happens. Good luck to you both.
 

spy9doc

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As far as the biopsy goes, I'd want to know what kind of treatment they would recommend based on what it turns out to be. If it turns out to be malignant, would they recommend chemo, and would you follow that recommendation? If it's an abscess of some sort, would they even need to have a biopsy?

Exactly the same questions I would ask. What is the purpose of the biopsy and will the results change his treatment? And, what is his longevity if he has a malignancy?

Based on my experience with all my boars, I think that at this point I would just go with the neuter and scrotal ablation for now. If the symptoms recur, then deal with it at that time. As much as I love my cavies, there comes a point of diminishing returns in trying to keep a cavy alive. Sometimes it is just kinder to let them go if the future looks bleak.
 

LittleSqueakers

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An update: Casper's surgery was yesterday and he seems to be doing really well! When I picked him up at the vet, he was already awake, alert, and moving around. His appetite's maybe a little off, but he's already eating pretty well on his own. Little interest in his water bottle so far, but he's producing plenty of normal-looking stools and is bright and eating, so I think he's just still hydrated from the fluids he got during surgery. I'm aiming for cleaning the surgical site with dilute hibiclens and rinsing with distilled water a few times a day while he's healing. (He does NOT like to be cleaned, but we're gonna make it happen.) His weight's down about 30 grams this morning, so I'll try a larger serving a CC and add an extra feeding over the weekend.

Dr. Ashley said that the lesion he removed from the scrotum was attached to the testis by what appeared to be scar tissue. I agreed to send it out for biopsy to find out what it is. The other testicle appeared normal upon removal.

The only thing I've noticed out of the ordinary is that his penis is partly unsheathed and has been since I picked him up after surgery. Not like dragging or anything, but he can't quite seem to retract it entirely. Is this typical following a neuter? How long can I expect it to take to go back to normal?
 

spy9doc

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Casper's surgery was yesterday and he seems to be doing really well!
The only thing I've noticed out of the ordinary is that his penis is partly unsheathed and has been since I picked him up after surgery. Not like dragging or anything, but he can't quite seem to retract it entirely. Is this typical following a neuter? How long can I expect it to take to go back to normal?

Great news! You go, Casper!

My Sparky had huge testicles and a penis to match. It appeared that his penis almost never fully retracted, either prior to the neuter or afterward......but it never seemed to bother him. OTOH, his brother's genital area looked like a girl after his neuter. I wouldn't worry about it at this point in time. It may take 2-3 weeks for things to return to normal......or the new normal.
 

LittleSqueakers

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I just finished doing a bed change for the pigs and Casper is running laps around his half of the cage. (They love a fresh, clean bed!) Should I shrink Casper's available space to try and limit running? I'm sure he shouldn't be running around 2 days after a neuter...

Right now I've got the 17-square-foot cage split in half so each pig currently has 8.5 square feet.
 

spy9doc

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I might try to keep him confined to an area no larger than a 2x2 for another day or two. OTOH, I doubt that he would be running laps if it hurts. I can't diagnose from afar, so it is your call.

Just curious........did the Vet close the incision with a vet glue or with sutures? Vets seldom use sutures for a neuter these days as it seems the cavy (or his cagemate) will pick at the sutures and with the glue, there's nothing to grab onto. They seem to heal pretty quickly.....as in a matter of days vs. weeks. Something you may want to keep an eye on is that as they heal and the tissues start to atrophy (shrink), it may cause some "pulling" and be uncomfortable. What I used to do is to put a tiny bit of hydrocortisone ointment around the area to reduce the itching. Be sure to rub the ointment in so that he doesn't ingest it.
 

LittleSqueakers

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Thanks so much for the advice! [MENTION=19714]spy9doc[/MENTION]

The vet did use glue. It's nice to know that it will heal more quickly that way. I'll try shrinking his end of the cage a little bit, but honestly, this was the pig who was popcorning and running laps inside a 25" x 18" travel cage within an hour of getting home from the shelter. He's pretty unstoppable. :D
 

spy9doc

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LittleSqueakers

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Update on Casper: Surgery was last Friday and he's looking great! He's not in any pain, happily popping and playing and eating his food well. Incisions look good; I've been super-diligent about keeping clean, dry bedding under him and cleaning the incisions twice daily with hibiclens and distilled water. No signs of inflammation or infection. He's got one last dose of antibiotics tonight (well, actually his very last dose is tomorrow morning, but I think I'll skip it so that I can FINALLY sleep in just a little longer...) Vet left me voicemail on Tuesday to check up on him, stated biopsy results not back yet. I expect I'll be hearing from him about biopsy results when he's next in the office next week.

My questions now are thus:

1.) At what point can I assume the incisions are fully closed and he no longer needs to be cleaned and have his bedding changed twice daily?

2.) At point can I try re-introducing Casper and Poptart? I'm concerned because it's still not entirely clear as to whether or not Poptart may have had something to do with Casper's lesion. There was no obvious initial injury to the site, but I have found Casper with shallow scratches/cuts on his nose before, and I've witnessed them get into tiffs. I'm also wondering if Casper may not have been getting his fair share of food when they were together. He has gained some weight since they were separated, but then again, I've been feeding CC too. Also, they're both about 5 months old now, and I know introducing adolescent boars can be an exceptionally challenging undertaking. Thoughts?
 

bpatters

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You should be able to tell when the incisions are fully closed. There'll be new skin covering them, and any drainage will have stopped.

But I'd give it a few more days before trying to reintroduce them. You don't want Casper pulling anything loose, nor do you want Poptart pestering him around the incision area.

It's an unfortunate age to have had to separate them. Reintroductions may go OK, or you may have to wait until they've outgrown adolescence. Here's the reference on how to do it if you need to: https://guinea-pigs.livejournal.com/3002707.html.
 

LittleSqueakers

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Update on Casper: Seems to be fully healed! :) He had a little bit of crusty, scabby stuff show up earlier this week around the incision, but no signs of infection, so I assume it's just scabs from the incision healing. He's back to his regular bedding and routine.

Now that he's healthy again and off all medications and extra feedings, I've decided to keep the boys split up for a little longer so that I can monitor Casper's weight. After watching their habits the past few weeks while the cage has been split, I'm thinking that Casper maybe hasn't been getting his fair share of the food, perhaps not due to outright aggression from Poptart, but more just by their differing eating habits. Any food I put in the cage, Poptart is right there to gobble it down in one go. Casper on the other hand seems to "graze" over a longer period of time. He doesn't really eat any less than Poptart -- they've both got good appetites and no signs of difficulty when eating -- but Casper seems to prefer to take his time. This is why I think Poptart probably ended up eating the majority of the food when they were together. I'm not ready to separate them based on this alone, but I'd just like to see what Casper's weight does to get a better idea of how being in a split cage is affecting him. Other than some bar chewing, both boys seem to be just as delighted in a split cage as when they were together.

Biopsy came back negative. Lots of inflammatory cells, suggesting this was the result of some random infection or possibly and atypical abscess. But seeing as the infected area was both in the testicle itself as well as the affected area of the scrotum, Dr. Ashley said this was probably something that was going to need to be surgically removed from the start. Kind of wish there was a more satisfying answer as to what caused the infection in the first place, but, you know, sometimes life throws you a curve ball and there is no reason. Just grateful it wasn't cancer. :)
 

Guinea Pig Papa

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Great news to hear he's doing better, and FANTASTIC news to hear it wasn't cancer. That had to be so relieving for you to hear!
 

LittleSqueakers

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I've kind of noticed it for a while now, but never really thought much about it: the bottoms of Casper's hind feet are sometimes really bright red. It seems to come and go a little bit, but now after reading about it, I'm pretty sure it might be the beginnings of bumblefoot. I took a good look today and it's nothing serious, but he does appear to have a specific area on each foot that's mildly irritated.

I don't think it's environment causing the issue, because Poptart's feet look perfectly fine. I have, however, noticed that Casper's skin seems to be a little bit sensitive, so maybe he's more prone to developing this condition than his cagemate? Is there anything I can do to treat a mild case at home before it becomes an issue?
 

LittleSqueakers

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Hi everyone!

So, the latest saga for my dear problem pig is that he has formed an abscess in his chin/throat area. He was sleeping in this morning, and I went to pet him under the chin and was shocked to discover a HUGE, hard mass under his fur. I dropped him off at the vet and she just called back saying that he definitely has an encapsulated abscess. She was able to drain and flush it, and says that because the pus was very liquidy, she doesn't immediately suspect CL. She's put him on 2 antibiotics, but says it will likely have to be removed surgically. Xray and exam of his mouth and teeth under sedation showed that his teeth are fine.

Now, she says that it SHOULD be okay to put Casper back in with Poptart (as long as Poptart doesn't bother the wound) because she doesn't think it's CL. But she didn't sound positive about it, and I'd rather separate them just to be safe. (Poptart's going to be super interested in cleaning the wound, anyway.)

My question is: what level of separation do I need to enforce to keep Poptart from potentially catching this infection? Can I divide the cage just with wire grids? Should I use a plexiglass divider? Just separate in 2 different rooms?

Thanks for the help, everyone! 😘
 

bpatters

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Sorry I missed this earlier. Poptart has already been exposed to whatever it is, so I wouldn't worry too much about it. I'd just keep a close eye on him in case he seems to be developing the same thing.

Separating pigs during illness can stress them out, and also cause problems with reintroductions. About the only time I ever separated mine was if one needed to be confined to a small space to keep them from moving while recovering, or to keep a cagemate from picking at a wound.
 

LittleSqueakers

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Thank you for the reply. Unfortunately, Poptart is a notorious cleaner of wounds, so out of an abundance of caution, I already separated them.

NOW the situation has deteriorated. While Casper seemed initially not to be very bothered by the abscess, I noticed his eating was slowing down after he saw the vet, and by Friday night, he had stopped eating. I've been hand feeding critical care, but I'm pretty sure he's in stasis. He hasn't pooped hardly at all since yesterday and his belly feels heavy with the food sitting in there. He now sits in a corner, not moving, but I did catch him drinking yesterday from his water bottle. I'm terrified that he's heading for bloat if he doesn't come out of stasis and start moving food through soon. After doing a little research on guinea lynx, I think he might just be intolerant to one or both of the antibiotics the vet prescribed. I'm going to stop both antibiotics until I can get in touch with the vet tomorrow... I hope he can start pooping again by then.

Any suggestions on what I can do to help my poor boy at this point? He's still alert whenever I pick him up and willing to let me feed him, even though though he won't eat on his own. I don't think he's given up just yet. Should I continue to feed him if he's not pooping?
 

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