Date:   29 November, 2012  

Focus: Small animals - dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pig, turtle & rabbits.

Some hamster case studies in 2002 and 2012  
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
First written: 23 November 2002
Update: 29 November, 2012
Be Kind To Pets
Veterinary Education
Project 2010-0129
Today, November 29, 2012, I googled "hamster nose lump Singapore and found the webpage:
This webpage (below) was written in November 23, 2002 and is edited. The internet had existed for around 5 years at that time.

Ten years had passed in a flash of lightning. The cases below were seen in November 2012 and my digital images are much better quality as I read lots of photo magazines available from the public libraries to improve my standard of digital photography so that readers enjoy sharper and better composed pictures of the pets they love and learn how to be better care-givers of their dwarf hamsters in Singapore. I invested in a better camera and lens too. It takes up a lot of time to produce the digital images for The images now number more than 6000 pictures of cases I had seen in my practice. I am trying to produce audio-videos but this takes even more time and I need to find the time to learn again the various software.

2002 Case study:  The hamster dies on the operating table

Singapore dwarf hamster 1.5 years old, breast tumour "Just two more 5/0 absorbable interrupted stitches to close the gap near the arm-pit." I said to Nurse Ann. "Hold the fingers of the hamster and abduct the hand. I mean pull the hand away from the body so that I can see clearly the bloodied skin and stitch up the gap near the arm pit."

This would take less than 60 seconds. The dwarf hamster moved her hand and wriggled as the fine needle penetrated her skin. She was feeling the pain as the effect of the gas anaesthesia had worn off.
Singapore dwarf hamster 1.5 years old, breast tumour

"Let her sniff more of the gas," I stopped stitching. Nurse Ann put the cotton-soaked anaesthetic close to the hamster's nose for a 
few seconds.  It would be difficult to stitch a moving dwarf hamster which was already half the size of an adult palm.

The hamster stopped breathing. There was no movement of the chest.  Careful scrutiny of the hamster is important as it is not practical to use the ECG equipment to monitor the heart beat as in human anaesthesia.

Singapore dwarf hamster 1.5 years old, breast tumourThis hamster had just died under anaesthesia from cardiovascular failure. It needed oxygen and cardiac massage immediately. There were none of the electric machines to stimulate the heart to beat again - those you would see in the television series ER or 'Emergency Room'.  Even if there were, it was not practical to apply them on such a small creature.

The first few seconds were critical. The hamster would be brain dead soon.  I pried open its mouth and blow in air as I massaged its chest to stimulate the heart. The lungs made a crispy sound as they got inflated. I blew in air again. It seemed a long time, but it was probably five seconds.  The hamster looked dead in this suspended time.

Ear pinnae wart  2x3mm - Dwarf Hamster SingaporeThen it started to move as it opened its mouth. I quickly stitched up the gap in the arm pit. The big wart on its right ear pinnae was cut off. It was weak and I gave it the electrolyte injection.

 Would it live? The next 3 days would be critical. It was not in a good condition to operate but there was no option. The breast lump had become discoloured. The lower part had become bluish black as it had been injured when the hamster rubbed against the wood shavings during movement.

The next stage would be an open wound. Bacteria would multiply on this wound and the hamster would lick it more as the skin became itchy and reddish. Soon, the hamster would stop eating and die.  I could see that it was dehydrated as I pulled up the skin fold which stood up high above its neck.

Singapore dwarf hamster 1.5 years old, breast tumourIt was already one and a half years old. "It has approximately  6 months more of life," I said to the twin girls who had just completed their Primary Six School Leaving Examinations. They had pestered their parents to bring in the hamster for consultation.

"The chances of it surviving anaesthesia are 50:50," I assessed. If only the lump had been removed earlier when the hamster was stronger and younger. As hamsters live for around two years, it ages fast as each month goes by, unlike people who is expected to live past seventy years.

Well, the girls had their important PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examination) examination which would qualify them to a good secondary school. The mother was concerned that it would be too upsetting to them if the hamster had been operated and had died under anaesthesia. The lump would not shrink and so it was not an abscess. It was likely a breast tumour. Was it risky to operate?  Yes. The hamster could die on the operating table.

"How much it would cost?" the father asked.

"Seventy dollars," I said. The cost was a hundred dollars but then the hamster would be denied the operation needed. It was irritated by the large mass as I observed the bluish skin on the lower part of the rounded tumour. This meant that the hamster had been licking it and possibly biting the lump to get rid of it. It must feel clumsy and
Singapore dwarf hamster 1.5 years old, breast tumour. Sleepy. uncomfortable with a big mass.  

How much would a baby hamster cost?  Around ten dollars. It sure did not make economic sense for most Singaporean fathers to spend money to get the hamster operated. Many did it for the love of their children.

To me, it was a risky operation and I would rather not do it. Death of a creature under anaesthesia is more traumatic to a veterinarian. A living creature comes to the clinic and it dies on the operating table.        

This hamster was revived. It ate a bit five minutes later and then it went to sleep after a slight half hearted attempt at cleaning itself.  The other hamsters would be alert and busy grooming themselves after surgery. This one looked very tired. Well, it is a nocturnal creature and sleeps during the day.
Would it die in the next few days? 

The twins, bespectacled and rather tall loved this hamster very much and would take good care of it and I hope it would survive for to live out its normal life span. 

2002 case study: Another hamster with a breast tumour

Singapore dwarf hamster 1.5 years old, tumour Singapore dwarf hamster 1.5 years old, tumour
Dwarf hamster with left breast tumour Gas anaesthesia given prior to surgery
Singapore dwarf hamster 1.5 years old, tumour Singapore dwarf hamster 1.5 years old, tumour Singapore dwarf hamster 1.5 years old, tumour
Recovering from anaesthesia 5 minutes after the end of surgery Busy grooming itself 10 minutes after surgery The sibling has right breast tumour too.
Singapore dwarf hamster 1.5 years old, tumour Singapore dwarf hamster 1.5 years old, tumour
Using fine 5/0 absorbable stitches to close up wound Hamster under anaesthesia will not feel the pain of the needle pulled through the skin.


2012 Case Study: A dwarf hamster had a big swollen eye. A mother and her 10-year-old daughter brought in a swollen-eyed hamster for treatment. Would the hamster lose her left eye to bacterial infection? How should I treat this case?
tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)5759. Pus in an eye for the past 2 weeks tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)5760. No pus in an eye after 20 days of treatment tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)5761. No pus in an eye after 20 days of treatment tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)5762. Overview
2012 Case Study. A hamster with an armpit of warts.

A lady owner in her 30s made an appointment with me to get her hamster operated upon. I simply texted her and she replied as regards the follow-up that her hamster was fine. 
2012 Case Study. A dwarf hamster with a lump in his nose.

A lady owner in her 30s swore that the fast-growing lump was not present when she went overseas 3 days ago. I thought it could be a fast-growing malignant tumour under the skin and above the nostrils. So electro-surgical equipment was used. It turned out to be a nasal abscess. She returned 3 days later to get the nose checked up. No complaint for the past 14 days and I presumed all was fine with her hamster. 
tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)5773 - 5778. Hamster nose abscess. The internet introduced a gentleman to consult me in a similar case one week later. His hamster had a small nose lump one month ago. It grew bigger and 2 weeks later, he consulted a vet. The vet lanced a small abscess but the nose lump still kept growing. "It needs time for the inflamed nose lump to ripen into an abscess," I said. This case would be written later.   
tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes) 5746 - 5751. Armpit full of warts excised by electricity. Post-op follow with the younger generation is nowadays by text messages. No talk.

tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)Toa Payoh Vets
 Clinical Research

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All rights reserved. Revised: November 29, 2012

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