Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Lump: Decision Update

I spoke to the vet this afternoon, some of the blood work results came back. The good news is her ACTH levels were totally normal so we can rule out any involvement of Cushing's. The bad news is that her total T4 concentration is still elevated - in fact, it was higher this time than it was at the time of either of the two previous tests. Her T3 levels were actually back in the normal range, but the vet feels that the T4 results alone are enough to recommend having the right thyroid lobe taken out. While she's still perfectly normal otherwise, i.e. no clinical signs, he's recommending having it surgically removed anyway because it will be the most efficient way of dealing with it. We'll send it out for pathology evaluation too after the fact, to see if there were any cancer cells in it. Without having the lobe removed and without any other treatment, she would continue to have the elevated levels of T4 and eventually, though no one would know when, she'd develop the poor hair coat, loss of weight, and huge appetite that seem to be evident in hyperthyroid horses. Removing it now would make sure that those symptoms never appear and the vet says she should be perfectly normal afterwards. The other lobe can compensate and produce enough thyroid hormone for the body, and on the off chance that it doesn't we can always supplement with Thyro-L. Even though she will have to go under general anesthesia, the surgery isn't terribly invasive because the thyroid is fairly superficial and there is no bony involvement. I could bring her home as early as Monday and she could go back to work in 3 weeks.

It's still nerve-wracking though...deciding to send a horse in for surgery. Especially when it is a hopefully preventative measure like this. The horse isn't actually hurting at the moment, so it almost seems like silly to put her through something like this. I've been through this decision making process before with my mini, Zipper, back when she dislocated her hip. It was much easier to make the decision then, because Zipper was in obvious pain and the surgery would help relieve that pain. In this case Maggie isn't in pain right now, but the surgery may help avoid future pain. Will it for sure? No one knows...and that it why it feels like a tougher decision.

But on the other hand, it isn't that difficult of a decision to make - if having the lobe out now gives her the best chance for a happy, healthy future and hopefully a nice long life, then I'm going to do it.

So, she;s scheduled for surgery tomorrow morning (wasting no time right?) I'll hopefully be able to get up there and visit with her when I can get out of work tomorrow. More updates then.

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