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hamster bleeds from the mouth
eyelids were glued together by a sticky yellowish mass and a
big cheek lump on the left face tilted her head towards the
left as she stumbled with the heavy load. She was 12 months
old and that would be past middle-aged for this Golden hamster as
the average life span is 18 - 24 months.
saw blood coming out of her mouth," Mrs Chan said as she
placed the hamster onto the examination table. "What is
the problem with her?"
is most likely an abscess," I said as I touched the
swelling. Yet it was a hard fibrous lump. I did not want to
stress the hamster by handling her as she looked as if she was
going to die any time. Lethargic, not eating for a few
days. This was not the ideal patient for surgery. Yet she
needed surgical removal of the lump which looked more like a
tumour than an abscess. If it was an abscess, incising the
swelling would release the pus and the hamster would be able
to eat. But this was a tumour impacted with feed accumulated
by the hamster over the past few days. There was yellowish pus
in some soft areas.
this was an infected and impacted cheek pouch tumour in a weak
hamster which would be dying of sepsis and infection in the
next 2 days.
If no operation was done, the hamster would die as she could
not eat properly even though she might be given antibiotics to
eliminate the bacterial infections in the pouch and
If surgery was done, she would need to be anaesthesized and
she might die on the operating table.
owners would not be happy to pay sixty dollars to receive a
dead pet at the end of the procedure. Sixty dollars could buy
three or four young hamsters if the owner was pragmatic and
calculating and I would not know the reaction of Mrs Chan who
was a first-time client.
know that there is a risk of your hamster dying if I operate
as she is very weak and her heart might fail under anaesthesia
or the next 24 hours?" I asked Mrs Chan. Informed consent
is nowadays a necessary procedure. Usually there would
be a form to acknowledge awareness of this risk.
"Is there another choice?" Mrs Chan asked. There was
no other method of treatment as this mass was hard and was
likely a tumour.
Mrs Chan decided on the surgery. I put the hamster under gas
anaesthesia, just sufficiently deep to operate without her
feeling the pain. Of course, there was no monitoring equipment
like pulse meter, heart rate meter, breathing meters and all
sorts of supporting equipment as in human anaesthesia.
hamsters, the shorter the anaesthesia and the faster the
surgery, the chances of survival post-operation are very good.
The tumour could be seen from inside the mouth once the hamster
was under anaesthesia. I use the scalpel to incise the left
cheek slowly. There was the membrane of the cheek pouch.
Slowly, the scissors were used to spread open the skin from
the membrane of the cheek pouch. The ball of tumour was then
The hamster gripped the scissors as the anesthetic wore off.
She was put back into the anaesthetic chamber for a short time
as the gaping wound in the cheek needed to be stitched up to
So far, so good. It was observation on the hamster's reaction
to stitching to tell how long the hamster would remain
anaesthesized. The hamster objected weakly to the fine needle
entering her skin from one side of the wound to the other
side. That would be just sufficient anaesthesia.
hair-like stitches would be placed to close up the wound.
Stitches that would dissolve by themselves after 14 days when
the wound edges would have healed. Would the hamster survive
the anaesthesia? She woke up fast but was groggy as she
staggered on the operating table after the last of the four
The next 24 hours would be important. Mrs Chan had to keep the
in a quiet warm place and let her sleep. It was daytime and
hamsters, being nocturnal
animals, should be sleeping. I hope she would lead a normal
life and that the tumour would not recur. Singapore's hamster
owners seldom re-visit the veterinarian to review the
condition and therefore the fate of this hamster would usually
not be known.
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