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Blood Transfusion for a Splenic Tumour

Belle, a 12 year old dog, presented with sudden collapse and weakness. Her gums were very pale indicating she had lost a lot of blood and had low blood pressure. Her abdomen was uncomfortable to touch and had a large firm swelling in the middle of it.

X-rays and ultrasound showed a massive splenic tumour (approx. grapefruit size) in her abdomen. There was no free fluid in the abdomen so we suspected the bleeding had gone into the tumour itself rather than the tumour rupturing and blood pouring into the abdomen.

Chest x-rays were clear and an ultrasound of her liver did not show any evidence of secondary tumours (metastises).

Bloods showed Belle had lost a lot of blood. Her Packed Cell Volume (PCV) was 10%, meaning only 10% of her blood was made of red blood cells (RBCs). A normal PCV is approx. 35-45%. Our in house haematology analyser (Idexx Lasercyte) did not show any new RBC (reticulcoytes) which was probably because the bone marrow had not had time to increase production of RBC.

Belle's anaemia was so severe, anaesthesia would have been very risky. The RBC carry oxygen around the body, and if there aren't enough of them present, keeping Belle asleep with good blood oxygen levels would have been near impossible.

Luckily , we had one of our good cleints offer her own Boxer, Storm, as a blood donor. Mark collected Storm from home and sedated him when back at the clinic. We shaved up his neck and got 1 unit fo fresh blood from his jugular vein.

We connected the fresh blood to Belle's IV drip and slowly transfused her over 2-3 hours.

Belle was anaethetised with IV Alfaxan and placed on 2% Isoflurane. An exploraory laparotomy revealed a large splenic tumour (see picture below). There were several dilated and tortuous blood vessels feeding the spleen. These were tied off and the spleen was removed.

The liver and other organs all looked clear at time of surgery. A biopsy fo the spleen was sent to the lab and we are waiting on a report to let us know if it is benign or malignant.

At stitches out 10 days later, Belle had beautiful pink gums and lots more energy. Her owners were very grateful to Storm who saved the day.

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