Message Number: YG1574 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-03-21 23:16:00 UTC
Subject: Re: Sugery or Make Comfortable?

--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., foxm@e... wrote:
> Dr. Williams;
> I just mailed you about Heidi, Insulinoma\Adrenal, Hx obstruction.
> I've had her home for 7 days getting ready for surgery and then my
> largest male, Whiskers, could not urinate and was crying in extreme
> pain. I rushed him to the closest vet and Whiskers had a emergency
> cystocentesis. 35cc of cloudy urine was aspirated. I left from
> and took him to a ferret knowedgeable vet. I knew it was adrenal
> the diagnosis was confirmed. More urine was removed 2 more times
> overnight and it was dedecided to operate. A tumor about 1/2 the
> size of a walnut shell was taken with the left adrenal. The right
> adrenal wasn't even visable. The spleen was greatly enlarged and
> tumors on it, so it was removed too. Total surgery time 50 min.
> Temp was 99 after surgery which ended at 2:00. By 5:00 today, same
> day, he had passed away.
> I know it was an emergency with the obstruction, but I have 5 more
> ferrets that need surgery. I have had 4 ferret surgeries with a
> survival rate of 50%.

I wouldn't judge all surgeries by the outcome of this emergency one -
postrenal obstruction can result in significant electrolye
abnormalities and dose not always make for a good surgical patient.
Additionally, I would look at the typical triad of contributing
factors to post surgical deaths - type of anesthesia, temperature
(you mention 99 after surgery - how long, and was it monitored later
on?), and fluid therapy during surgery.

You don't mention the other surgery that resulted in death, but often
there are contributing factors that can be identified with a careful
review. Good vets go over each mortality,looking for comon factors
that may have contributed to the death. It is rarely as simple as
one major complication - often, a number of smaller, almost
unnoticeable factors that combine to result in the problem.

> If the ferret is not suffering, ie; emergency, should I just let
> live what is left of their life and keep them comfortable? After
> Whiskers I'm questioning the sanity of all this. He was a whopping
> three pounds and by far in the best shape for surgery.

I can only tell you what we do at our house. We also have had some
rough luck with surgery, losing four over the last six years in the
immediate post-op period. But we are more careful these days, and
have not had any post-op mortalities in three years. I always choose
surgery. Surgery is the only chance for a cure, and I owe the ferret
at least that. Suffering and comfort are not easily defined or
measured - and ferrets are stoic. I 'm not qualified to judge what
is suffering, except perhaps in its more obvious examples. Who is to
say why a ferret is not eating well, or doesn't get up but for an
hour a day?

Personally, I opt for surgery in every instance. But that's me.

With kindest regards,

Bruce H. Williams, DVM, DACVP
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