What Is a Lumpectomy in Cats?

A lumpectomy is the surgical removal of a cat’s suspicious lump, mass or tumor. If the lump is associated with an organ, only the lump is removed, sparing the remainder of the organ.

What Are the Indications for Performing a Lumpectomy on a Cat?

A lumpectomy is indicated for a cat whenever a suspicious mass is detected. The primary reason to perform a lumpectomy is determine if the mass is benign or malignant and to help determine any future treatment.

What Preoperative Examinations or Tests Are Needed?

Preoperative tests depend in part on the age and general health of the animal. If the lump is small and on the skin, simple blood tests, such as a packed cell volume or blood count, may be done prior to anesthesia. If the lump is associated with a major organ, extensive tests such as radiographs, blood count, serum biochemical tests, a urinalysis, and possibly an EKG may be necessary.

What Type of Anesthesia is Needed For a Lumpectomy?

For small skin lumps, local anesthetic or sedation may sufficient. Large lumps or masses associated with organs require general anesthesia to induce complete unconsciousness and relaxation. In this case, the pet will receive a pre-anesthetic sedative-analgesic drug to help him relax, a brief intravenous anesthetic to allow placement of a breathing tube in the windpipe, and subsequently inhalation (gas) anesthesia in oxygen during the actual surgery.

How Is the Lumpectomy Operation Done on a Cat?

For skin lumps, the hair surrounding the lump is clipped. The area is scrubbed with surgical soap and disinfectants. The skin surrounding the lump is incised and the lump dissected free. Absorbable sutures are used to bring the edges of the underlying tissues together. The outer layer of skin is closed with sutures or surgical staples; these need to be removed in about 10 to 14 days.

For lumpectomies associated with abdominal organs, following anesthesia, the pet is placed on a surgical table, lying on his back. The hair is clipped over the middle of the abdomen, the skin is scrubbed with surgical soap to disinfect the area and a sterile drape is placed over the surgical site. A scalpel is used to incise the skin at the middle of the abdomen, and then the abdominal cavity is opened. The lump is identified and removed, sparing the remainder of the organ. Sutures (stitches) that dissolve over time may be used to close the incision of the organ. The abdominal incision is then closed with one or two layers of self-dissolving sutures (stitches). The outer layer of skin is closed with sutures or surgical staples; these need to be removed in about 10 to 14 days

The lump is placed in the preservative formalin and submitted to a veterinary pathologist for evaluation.

How Long Does the Lumpectomy Take to Perform?

The procedure takes about 15 minutes to an hour to perform in most cases, including the needed time for preparation and anesthesia. In small, uncomplicated lumpectomies, the procedure is relatively quick; whereas, in large lumpectomies, especially those involving abdominal organs, the procedure can take longer.

What Are the Risks and Complications for a Cat?

The overall risk of this surgery is low, especially in those situations where local anesthesia is used. The major risks accompany large lumpectomies and are those of general anesthesia, bleeding, postoperative infection and wound breakdown (dehiscence) over the incision. Overall complication rate is low, but serious complications can result in death or the need for additional surgery.

What Is the Typical Postoperative Aftercare For a Lumpectomy?

Post-operative medication should be given to relieve pain, which is judged in most cases to be mild to moderate and can be effectively eliminated with safe and effective pain medicines. The home care requires reduced activity until the stitches are removed in 10 to 14 days. The suture line should be inspected daily by the pet owner for signs of redness, discharge, swelling, or pain.

How Long Is the Cat’s Hospital Stay Following a Lumpectomy?

The typical stay for small and minor lumpectomies is brief. The cat is usually sent home as soon as the procedure is performed. For extensive lumpectomies and those associated with abdominal organs, hospital stays vary depending on the overall health of the cat.