A cottage cheese-like substance oozed from Rags’ abscess
For some unfortunate reason, we often use food references to describe the most foul of subject matter in the veterinary field. Perhaps it’s because food is one of the universal things we can all envision — whether it be the cauliflower-like growth on the eyelid of a gently aging retriever, or the cherry-like tumor, red and glistening, protruding from the chest wall of a cranky calico cat. A particularly unpleasant one is pudding-like stool. It makes the consumption of pudding suddenly not so palatable, but such references go on and on.
It was a pretty routine afternoon the other day, but between the puppy vaccines and annual health checks, there wasn’t one food example to be found. No lemon-sized lipomas or melonsized mammary tumors (thank God; I hate those cases). Not even a pea-sized papiloma. But then, just before the end of my shift, one little three pound creature rounded out the day.
Gina brought in her Guinea pig friend, Rags, to see me. She had found a lump on his hip area. But not just any lump… a walnutsized lump. It didn’t seem to bother him for me to touch it, but it had an odd consistency — soft and compressible — sort of a cream cheese consistency. (I know, I’m on a roll. And pun definitely intended.) It was clearly an abscess. I speculated that nearly half of Rag’s body weight was tes- ticle, so it wasn’t unlikely that he might have argued with his Guinea pig buddy Conrad. They would sometimes get into little scuffles, and I figured Conrad may have given him a bite to the rump, leading to the abscess.
He was a very co-operative little rodent as I examined him, and the lump didn’t appear the least bit tender. With Gina’s permission I took Rags out back to the treatment area to lance the abscess. I contemplated an anaesthetic, but Rags was four years old, just a tad long in the tooth so to speak. These small companions usually only live from four to eight years, and I didn’t want to risk it. It wasn’t a problem though, with my technician Jennifer carefully holding him, he was a brave and strong little gentleman.
After precise poke with a scalpel blade I carefully began expressing the typical discharge found in rodents and rabbits: an exudate halfway between cream cheese and cold cottage cheese. With a few gentle flushes and some careful debriding, I removed as much of the caseous (or cheesy) infection as possible. With these thick exudates, the abscesses have a high risk of returning, so I left the wound I had created open so it could continue to drain if necessary.
Gina was quite capable of gently flushing the infected site at home using the kitchen sink hose, and with the liquid antibiotic having a sweet taste, we were both optimistic that his next visit would in no way resemble any kind of food.
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