Friday, June 22, 2012

Dog cryosurgery: A gross, but effective, procedure

Liam posing with his cryosurgery spot
There's not a way to take a picture of this without making Liam
look really sad and pathetic, unfortunately.
On Monday, as I detailed in this blog entry, Liam had a little bump under his ear worked on. Since the bump didn't seem to be attached to deeper structures, his veterinarian felt that a major biopsy of the bump wasn't really warranted, so we choose to freeze the spot off with cryosurgery. I'll never know what the bump was, on the down side, but he was only under anesthesia for a short period of time, and he was able to avoid a deep, disfiguring cut.

Cryosurgery is often done with a little pen-like device that looks like this. The procedure essentially freezes the flesh, and when it's over, no stitches are required. The skin blisters, and the scorched spot eventually scabs up and falls off.

I've been pleasantly surprised by some aspects of this surgery.

For example, Liam seems to have no pain at all, and he hasn't been scratching or digging at this spot at all. That's been a great thing to see. But, it does seem to be taking a long time for this thing to fall off. The veterinarian warned me that it might take up to 10 days for the scab to fall off, but I had really hoped it would come off sooner. It's rough and it stands out from his head, and I am fearful he'll catch it on something and rip it off before the blood vessels beneath it have a chance to shrink back.

Liam the pug had cryosurgery
This photo makes the bump a bit easier to see.
I should also note that most websites about cryosurgery say that the procedure can be done without anesthesia. I wonder about that.

Liam had anesthesia for his procedure mainly because he is a wiggly worm, and this spot is close to his eyes. A little slip could have been tragic. But in addition, humans report that having a wart frozen off in a doctor's office is incredibly painful. It seems like animals might also find cryosurgery at least a little uncomfortable, and I would think most animals would like some sort of pain control to get through it. If my veterinarian hadn't suggested pain control, I think I would have brought it up.

I'm hoping this spot will be gone by Wednesday, but I'll pop up pictures either way.