Miracle recovery as West Lothian vet removes football-sized tumor from dog’s spleen

Marty the Golden retriever could have died but for the skills of specialist small animal surgeon Joanna McCagherty.

The 11-year-old pooch was rushed to Linnaeus-owned Veterinary Specialists Scotland (VSS) in Livingston after falling ill.

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Staff at the specialist West Lothian center diagnosed the problem and warned that it was life-threatening before Marty calmly trotted into surgery.

Marty loves nothing better than a day out in the hills Pic: VSS

During the op it was discovered that the tumor had ruptured Marty’s spleen which was potentially fatal.

Luckily he survived the close call and has now made a full recovery.

Owner, Jane Gallacher said: “We faced the possibility of taking Marty home to die or a potentially complex operation which may or may not save him.

“When we met Joanna, Marty trotted off down the corridor behind her as though he knew his life was in her hands.

The size of the tumor facing specialist small animal surgeon Joanna McCagherty Pic: VSS

“We all trusted her from the start. She explained the plan and was entirely honest about the risks and so kind throughout, promising us she would call when the surgery was over that evening.

“When Joanna called, she told us Marty’s spleen had ruptured due to the large tumor but that his body had stemmed the bleeding itself and that, amazingly, he had not lost too much blood and therefore did not need a blood transfusion.

“She then told us the mass that she’d removed was the size of a football.”

Jane added: “We felt so bad as we’d been cutting back his food a bit thinking he was a getting a little bit heavy – well, he’s more than 1kg lighter now.”

Marty looking sorry for himself as he recovers from treatment Pic: VSS

Lifesaver Joanna, who is a renowned small animal surgeon, explained: “Marty had been referred to us as an emergency for investigation and surgical management of haemoabdomen due to a suspected bleeding mass on his spleen.

“A CT scan was performed which revealed a large mass, some 20cm across, within Marty’s spleen and free fluid within the abdominal cavity which was likely to be blood.

“Marty underwent abdominal surgery and we discovered the very large mass had ruptured and was bleeding in several areas.

“It was also firmly adhered to the surrounding tissues, making it very challenging to remove the spleen and the associated mass.

Marty is back to his old tricks, enjoying a day getting wet and covered in sand at the beach Pic: VSS

“The majority of masses on the spleen which have ruptured are typically malignant tumors, so we were very pleased Marty’s mass was benign and no further treatment was needed.”

Relieved Jane added: “We will forever be thankful for the amazing dedication and skill of Joanna and the VSS team effort that saved our Marty.

“It’s a truly remarkable story and the icing on the cake was the call from Joanna 10 days after surgery with the news that the tumor was benign and Marty was cancer free! We are so grateful.”

VSS is a specialist-led multidisciplinary referral center offering industry-leading services in cardiology, dermatology, internal medicine (feline and canine), neurology, orthopedics, and soft tissue surgery, supported by specialists in diagnostic imaging and anesthesia and analgesia.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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