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Ruby: Lump Removal

Education > Patient Stories 9th April 2019

Our brave little patient is an adorable hamster named Ruby - weighing just 30g light. Her family noticed a lump growing along the right side of her body and scheduled a lumpectomy with Dr Sarah Wong at Mount Pleasant Animal Clinic (East).

Rodent anaesthesia is challenging because of the animal’s size, metabolic rate and risk of hypothermia. Anaesthetics for rodents can be administered as an inhalant or injected. The most common inhalant anaesthetic used for rodents is isoflurane. A toe pinch will verify if the animal is deeply anaesthetised before proceeding with surgery. Unlike dogs and cats, regurgitation is seldom a concern for rodents so it is not necessary to withhold food or water prior to surgery.

Surgical preparation includes anaesthesia induction, clipping of hair and scrubbing. In rodents, the ratio of their body surface area to body mass is greater than larger species like dogs or cats. They lose body heat rapidly. It is critical to keep Ruby warm during and after surgery and ensure she recovers well from anaesthesia. To prevent hypothermia, we avoid wetting too large an area during the surgical scrub. Ruby is placed on a heating pad to keep her warm throughout the procedure.

Rodent surgery is a delicate procedure. The surgeon has to be very gentle and careful to avoid unnecessary trauma to the tissues.
After the lump is removed, the incision site is closed with non-absorbable sutures which will be removed when the wound is healed, usually within 7 to 10 days. Post-operative analgesics (painkillers) and antibiotics are administered to reduce pain and discomfort from the surgery. The lump will be sent to the laboratory for histopathological diagnosis. Lumps on the chest and abdomen in females are commonly mammary tumours which can be benign or malignant.

Ruby is a feisty little girl. When she started meddling with the stitches, Dr Audrey Loi made a little fibreglass body cast to keep her surgical site clean. The fibreglass body cast is kept in place with elastoplast.

Ruby’s family will monitor her closely for the next few days to make sure she is alert, active and eating before her review in a week's time.


  • Refuse to eat, drink or groom
  • Unwilling to move, hunched up posture
  • Redness and swelling at incision site
  • Excessive licking or scratching, self-mutilation
  • Squealing, teeth grinding, twitching, tremors, weakness
  • Laboured breathing