Jager Meier, a 10-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer, came to Tranquility Veterinary Clinic on September 25, 2015, after his owner became concerned that Jager was not acting himself. He was neither eating nor drinking, and he had been considerably lethargic as of late. Upon physical examination, Dr. Christensen found that Jager’s abdomen was very tense; bloodwork showed that Jager was anemic.
In response to this finding, Dr. Christensen recommended taking abdominal radiographs, and the following day Jager returned to our clinic. Using our digital radiology equipment, images of Jager’s abdomen revealed free fluid (presumed to be blood) and an enlarged spleen. Suspecting that Jager had a mass on his spleen, an ultrasound was scheduled for September 29th for further exploration. Dr. Krotje-Wall, our clinic’s board-certified internist, performed the ultrasound and confirmed a splenic mass. Surgery to remove the spleen was scheduled for the next day.
Dr. Christensen performed a splenectomy on Jager on September 30th, with the procedure being uneventful and the patient recovering well. A sample of the mass was sent to the laboratory for biopsy, and within days he received a diagnosis of splenic hemangiosarcoma. Hemangiosarcomas are, unfortunately, aggressive and malignant cancers with poor prognoses. Jager’s owners opted to pursue a course of chemotherapy to try to delay the regrowth and spread of his cancer.
On October 21st, Jager returned once again to our clinic to begin his chemotherapy. Due to the sensitive nature of the drugs used in these treatments, and because it is important to observe the patient after he has received chemotherapy, clients typically drop their pets off in the morning to remain with us for the day. Once admitted, the doctor or a technician will draw a blood sample from the patient to run an in-house complete blood count. We do this to ensure that the patient’s blood cell numbers are within an acceptable range to receive treatment. In Jager’s case, Dr. Christensen determined from the bloodwork that it was appropriate to proceed as planned.
To ready Jager for chemotherapy, Dr. Christensen gave medications to counteract nausea. He prepared a mixture of therapeutic fluids with doxorubicin, while Kyle, our head technician, placed an intravenous catheter in Jager’s leg—when we administer chemotherapy to patients, it must be delivered over a controlled period of time, and a well-secured catheter ensures that the treatment is only received intravenously. Once all of the materials were in place, technician Darlene helped Jager settle into a comfortable position in our radiology room, and Dr. Christensen began the chemotherapy on a slow drip through Jager’s catheter.
Jager received his full dose of chemo over the course of 25 minutes, as the doctor monitored his catheter and Darlene kept him still and relaxed. The catheter was then removed and replaced with a bandage, and all of the materials used were gathered and disposed of in medical waste receptacles. To thank Jager for being such a well-behaved patient, we brought him for a short walk in the yard behind the clinic, where he was able to enjoy the sunny morning—and a handful of biscuits!