Message Number: YG1372 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-03-17 09:07:00 UTC
Subject: Re: spleenomegy...when is it benign and when not?

--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., wolfysluv@a... wrote:
> Guys my little girl is just now one year old ok (to me that is
still a
> baby and not a full grown adult...though I may be wrong in that).
Her whole
> side swelled... and is hard to me when palpitated. It became
evident that
> she had an enlarged spleen. It was confirmed by a vet and xray.
Her poos,
> and pees' are perfectly normal. She eats (but I dont know how
much). She is
> not tender etc.
> She has one symptom. Complete exhaustion. She sleeps sleeps
> sleeps...and I mean off by herself some, and not in a ball but on
her side.
> Question.. is this some thing that usually dissapears as oddly
as it
> appears? I am certain she does not have helicop. bacteria. I am
> can she just be fighting a slow virus (like we do with mono)?
sigh. When
> should I worry.... if at all?

Dear Wolfy:

An enlarged spleen is indeed unusual in a 1-year-old animal (I'll
back up Patty here.) Most enlarged spleens are the result of chronic
or long-standing inflammation (probably about 95% in our middle-aged
to older ferrets.) This change is a stereotypical response to
chornic inflammation in ferrets - usually of the GI tract with
Helicobacter or ECE being the most common offenders. The other five
percent are tumors, with lymphoma being the most commonly seen, but
sometimes you can see other tumors there.

With a one-year old aniaml, the numbers of neoplasms is probably
significnatly higher, because you don't commonly see Helicobacter
infections reach a critical point by a year of age. They can,
however, so I would probably not rule it out just yet. You can see
large spleens in animals who have taken a while to recover from ECE,

I think in this case, a splenic biopsy should be done, or at least an
aspirate to rule out the possibility of lymphoma. In juvenile forms
of lymphoma, the spleen, liver, and thymus are commonly involved,
with the lymph nodes being spared and remaining their normal size
until late in the course of disease.

It is not unusual that she should be extremely lethargic - think how
you would feel if your spleen weighed forty pounds. In a case such
as this I would recommend bloodwork to look for clues as to where a
treatable inflammatory condition may be, and if it is not apprarent,
a splenectomy may be a prudent course of action. At this time, you
can sample the spleen to get the final diagnosis.

With kindest regards,

Bruce H. Williams, DVM, DACVP
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