Message Number: YG4020 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-05-26 22:24:00 UTC
Subject: Re: Spleen question

--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., "Ulrike" <ferretlove@n...> wrote:
> My Jack has a pretty big spleen I think and I'm really worried. It
> the spleen is getting bigger and Jack is getting so thin, he's been
on the
> thin side with a big tummy for a while but now he seems worse.
> Are there blood tests that could help that we should have done? I
> know what to do, risk surgery and take the spleen out when he
didn't even
> tolerate an exploratory? Or not do anything and then whatever is
going on
> is going to get worse and possibly kill him? Do ferrets generally
do well
> after the removal of the spleen, do they usually get through
surgery okay?
> How long can they live without a spleen? Can they lead a normal
> without it?

Dear Ulrike:

The vast majority of enlarged spleens in ferrets are the result of
chronic inflammation rather than any type of tumor (probably 95%+ are
benign.) The presence of chronic inflammation in the ferret -
usually in the GI tract - results in a proliferation of red and white
blood cells in the spleen, which in turn, causes the enlargement.
You can aspirate the spleen with a needle, which would not require an
exploratory (as long as your vet's pathologist is familiar with
ferret diseases.) The other possibility is lymphoma, which geneally
appreas in less than 5% of cases.

Actually, while we are discussing lymphoma, I should mention that the
enlarged lymph nodes are far more worrisome to me than the spleen.
These nodes should also be aspirated as well. The combination of
enlarged spleen as well as these nodes probably increases the
possibility of lymphoma here.

Should either aspirate (spleen or lymph nodes) even be questionable
for lymphoma, then a lymph node biopsy and splenectomy probably
should be strongly considered.

With kindest regards,

Bruce H. Williams, DVM, DACVP
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