Cancerous tumor, full tail amputation, recovery?

Lilith86

Member
Hi everyone,

Before I ask anything more of this forum, I want to thank all the moderators and members who contribute to these threads. You guys are an amazing community, and you help pet owners more than you may ever know. But I kinda hope you do know a little bit at least. I really appreciate that this forum exists, and I know that it must be a labor of love from many people. This is not the first time I've turned to this community when I've had a challenging beardie situation. I'm glad I have someplace to go now.

Does anyone have experience with recovery of an adult beardie from a full tail amputation? This is a last ditch effort to remove a cancerous tumor high up on tail and prevent dry tail rot from progressing. Right now, he is a strong, happy and healthy boy, so we are hoping he will tolerate surgery well. But I am aware that no anesthetic is without risk, and that this is a very large, very serious surgery.

I would love to hear any stories that anyone would be willing to share about their experiences with tail amputations and helping their babies heal. I am worried that I will be taking Agni, my 7 year old beardie in for surgery, but that I will not get him back. Again, he is acting very bright and happy now, but I feel like we are at a turning point. If I don't do something soon about the tumor/ tail rot start, I feel like it will be too late to do anything other than inevitably watch the tumor invade his torso or die from sepsis as the tail dies.

Please let me know if you want any details from me. We are taking him in for surgery this coming Wednesday. He will be staying at the vet for 2 nights after to stabilize.

Details:

I have a 7 year old male beardie named Agni. We found a tumor on the underside base of his tail, below the hemipenes but still pretty close to the torso, in January. We removed it, but that vet did not take good margins. Pathology came back, said it was a slow growing spindle cell cancer, not likely to metastasize. Got referred to a better vet that specializes in exotics and has more cancer experience. New vet said to watch it, it may not even come back. 6 months on, it has grown back more quickly than we thought it would and is now pretty big, to the point that we think it's encroaching on blood supply for the rest of the tail and is responsible for a tiny bit of dry necrosis at tip of tail.

This vet is the best I've been able to find across three states. She is recommending a high tail amputation. We know this may not cure the cancer (he may be on borrowed time... this cancer doesn't *usually* she cells and relocate in other parts of the body, but who knows?) but the idea is to prevent him from getting severe tail rot and going septic, and possibly prevent the tumor from spreading into the important structures where the tail meets the body. She's done a lot of tail amputations and feels fairly confident Agni will pull through the surgery and heal enough to have the best chance possible at the best quality of life left to him, however long that is with whatever cancer remains.

I hate to admit this, but part of my hang up about the surgery is that I can't imagine him without a tail. My other problem is that I am worried that *he* will be weirded out without a tail and that he will have trouble healing and living a full life, if he heals, which also seems like a big if. My other other problem is that I'm worried I'm taking my beardie that is currently full of life into a serious surgery to get cut up and I might not get him back... am I being selfish by putting him through this?

Does anyone have a story about a beardie who has come through a high tail amputation and had a good quality of life after?

Thank you so much for any stories you are willing to share.
 

KarrieRee

BD.org Sicko
Beardie name(s)
Hiccup he is 4 and Blaze is 2
Hi everyone,

Before I ask anything more of this forum, I want to thank all the moderators and members who contribute to these threads. You guys are an amazing community, and you help pet owners more than you may ever know. But I kinda hope you do know a little bit at least. I really appreciate that this forum exists, and I know that it must be a labor of love from many people. This is not the first time I've turned to this community when I've had a challenging beardie situation. I'm glad I have someplace to go now.

Does anyone have experience with recovery of an adult beardie from a full tail amputation? This is a last ditch effort to remove a cancerous tumor high up on tail and prevent dry tail rot from progressing. Right now, he is a strong, happy and healthy boy, so we are hoping he will tolerate surgery well. But I am aware that no anesthetic is without risk, and that this is a very large, very serious surgery.

I would love to hear any stories that anyone would be willing to share about their experiences with tail amputations and helping their babies heal. I am worried that I will be taking Agni, my 7 year old beardie in for surgery, but that I will not get him back. Again, he is acting very bright and happy now, but I feel like we are at a turning point. If I don't do something soon about the tumor/ tail rot start, I feel like it will be too late to do anything other than inevitably watch the tumor invade his torso or die from sepsis as the tail dies.

Please let me know if you want any details from me. We are taking him in for surgery this coming Wednesday. He will be staying at the vet for 2 nights after to stabilize.

Details:

I have a 7 year old male beardie named Agni. We found a tumor on the underside base of his tail, below the hemipenes but still pretty close to the torso, in January. We removed it, but that vet did not take good margins. Pathology came back, said it was a slow growing spindle cell cancer, not likely to metastasize. Got referred to a better vet that specializes in exotics and has more cancer experience. New vet said to watch it, it may not even come back. 6 months on, it has grown back more quickly than we thought it would and is now pretty big, to the point that we think it's encroaching on blood supply for the rest of the tail and is responsible for a tiny bit of dry necrosis at tip of tail.

This vet is the best I've been able to find across three states. She is recommending a high tail amputation. We know this may not cure the cancer (he may be on borrowed time... this cancer doesn't *usually* she cells and relocate in other parts of the body, but who knows?) but the idea is to prevent him from getting severe tail rot and going septic, and possibly prevent the tumor from spreading into the important structures where the tail meets the body. She's done a lot of tail amputations and feels fairly confident Agni will pull through the surgery and heal enough to have the best chance possible at the best quality of life left to him, however long that is with whatever cancer remains.

I hate to admit this, but part of my hang up about the surgery is that I can't imagine him without a tail. My other problem is that I am worried that *he* will be weirded out without a tail and that he will have trouble healing and living a full life, if he heals, which also seems like a big if. My other other problem is that I'm worried I'm taking my beardie that is currently full of life into a serious surgery to get cut up and I might not get him back... am I being selfish by putting him through this?

Does anyone have a story about a beardie who has come through a high tail amputation and had a good quality of life after?

Thank you so much for any stories you are willing to share.
I have not had any experience w/ this situation but Tracie our vet tech mod and another one on the forum can maybe address your concerns
@AHBD
@Drache613
 

AHBD

BD.org Sicko
Wow, sorry to hear about this stressful situation ! None of my dragons have ever had an operation but I've seen many on here that have. You can type it in the search bar to possibly find tail amputations . I know that many beardies recover from even more invasive surgeries such as being opened up for a spay and most of them survive + do well. I can understand your hesitation, it's a big deal and it's nerve wracking . I guess if the vet is positive that this is a cancer that will grow and eventually be fatal the surgery may be 100 % necessary. Do you have pics of your boy Agni, including the affected area ? BTW, 7 years is not that old so he should survive surgery easily and will not really miss his tail [ maybe a little bit at first ] , but may be slightly off balance when climbing.
 

Lilith86

Member
Original Poster
Hi AHBD!

Thank you so much for your reply! Here are some pictures of Agni. Keep in mind that he already had the lump removed 6 months ago, so all this is now regrowth, which is why we feel the need to excise it quickly before it gets into other structures.
 

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AHBD

BD.org Sicko
Nice looking boy ! Well the vet would have to be very experienced cutting in that area where the hemipenes are but I guess they know what they're doing. It's a hard decision but if your vet feels there are no other options it might be the thing to do with no other expert opinion . Best wishes to you, whatever you decide !
 

Lilith86

Member
Original Poster
Nice looking boy ! Well the vet would have to be very experienced cutting in that area where the hemipenes are but I guess they know what they're doing. It's a hard decision but if your vet feels there are no other options it might be the thing to do with no other expert opinion . Best wishes to you, whatever you decide !
Thank you! I will keep you all informed that that if there is anyone else who has this same problem they can look back on this thread too!
 

Lilith86

Member
Original Poster
Thank you! I will keep you all informed that that if there is anyone else who has this same problem they can look back on this thread too!
Oh, also, the vet gave me a silver sulfadiazine cream to put on the tip of the tail where some already fell off, just until we get him in to surgery. I will try to get you a picture of the tail tip tomorrow... tonight he has already retired to his cave and has had enough of me fussing over him!

I'm already planning how to make his tank the most comfortable for him in recovery. All paper towels substrate, as usual, for good frequent clean up. We will disinfect all tank furniture (caves) before surgery so it's clean when he comes home. We are going to use a good permanent double sided tape to get his suction cup hammock to actually stay up in the corner of his tank, so he can lounge in that and get pressure totally off the amputation site. Saw a great thread on here with a beardie that had a full leg amputation due to septic arthritis and recovered, and they had tiny soft animal bed, so I ordered him one too and a lot of fresh towels from amazon, so he can nest and be comfy. Also replenished my supply of silk worms. He is not good about drinking from a dish and right now gets most of his hydration from baths, but I know that will not be possible for a while after surgery, so we are loading up on baths and hydration now and I will just plan to have slurries and fresh juicy veggies available to him post-op. And we have new light bulbs (heat and UV) and supplemental tank heating, and good meters for temps and humidity.
I feel like we're about to go into battle, but I think we are as ready as we can be!
 

hdochow

Hatchling Member
Beardie name(s)
Sir Henry of Scales
I feel like we're about to go into battle, but I think we are as ready as we can be!
i think that's the best way to look at dire situations like this. i always plan for the worst, but hope for the best. at least that way if something does go sideways on ya it's not a total out of the blue shock.

as for your mention of the double sided tape, we have a solid melamine enclosure. we've had very good luck using the 3m command products to attach things to the side of it. so you could look into that too for the hammock. even if you remove the suction cups and use something like this, which can be found in clear, white, or black (maybe more colors i don't know about) ... https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00WS5HM9C/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&th=1
 

Drache613

BD.org Sicko
Staff member
Moderator
Hello,

Wow, poor thing. I totally agree, I would feel the same hesitation towards that invasive of a
surgery as well. I haven't had experience with that type of surgery, either.
I would definitely be concerned about the surgery going too high & possibly injuring him. If
at all possible, getting a second opinion would be ideal.
Is he doing well otherwise?

Tracie
 

Lilith86

Member
Original Poster
i think that's the best way to look at dire situations like this. i always plan for the worst, but hope for the best. at least that way if something does go sideways on ya it's not a total out of the blue shock.

as for your mention of the double sided tape, we have a solid melamine enclosure. we've had very good luck using the 3m command products to attach things to the side of it. so you could look into that too for the hammock. even if you remove the suction cups and use something like this, which can be found in clear, white, or black (maybe more colors i don't know about) ... https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00WS5HM9C/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&th=1
Thank you for the recommendation! I went ahead and bought a batch! They do look a lot more trustworthy, and the thing we DON'T want to have happen is him lounging in the hammock and then it suddenly falling....
 

Lilith86

Member
Original Poster
Hello,

Wow, poor thing. I totally agree, I would feel the same hesitation towards that invasive of a
surgery as well. I haven't had experience with that type of surgery, either.
I would definitely be concerned about the surgery going too high & possibly injuring him. If
at all possible, getting a second opinion would be ideal.
Is he doing well otherwise?

Tracie
Hi Tracie!

He is doing well otherwise. Living a totally normal beardie life of eating, running around, etc... Which is why this is such an agonizing decision.

The only issue he's having is that damage to the tail tip, the spindle cell cancer growing back so quick, and he's been a little constipated lately (constipation is solved with baths and oral lactulose milk thistle (?) supplement that the vet gave us).

I'm not sure what other vet I could go to for a second opinion. There is one other that I know of near me who is certified for avian/ exotics. Maybe I will call him and see if he would be willing to take a look at Agni's case. But I know he's very busy and hard to get a hold of. But I will try.

BTW I live in Maryland (USA), and the main vet I am seeing is Dr. Nielsen from Stahl Exotics in Fairfax Virginia. I'm from Columbia, MD. The other vet I'm going to try to get a hold of is Dr. Rhody at Lakeside Vet Center in Laurel, MD. He saw my previous beardie, Osiris, who died of metastatic carcinomas/ sarcomas that spread undetected in his torso. I think part of me is trying to save Agni from the same fate.

I know the tail amputation won't by any means guarantee that we got all the tumor cells out, but since this cancer usually just grows locally and doesn't often shear off into the blood or lymph system to spread further, we have a possibility of removing the problem entirely. And with how quickly this thing is growing, I fear that if it *did* spread to his torso it would become very bad for Agni very quickly.

I don't know guys. Ugh.... I feel like there's a line I'm trying to walk between good preventative medicine and just doing too much. I know there is another option to just leave everything alone and see how long he can have a good quality of life for, even if it turns out to be only a short time.

I wish I had access to some case studies about beardie recovery from high tail amputation, something that discussed complications and failure rates, so I wouldn't feel like I'm taking a shot in the dark with this surgery.

Argh!
 

Drache613

BD.org Sicko
Staff member
Moderator
Hello,

There are a number of cases that deal with tail amputations & they can deal with amputation & have a
normal life. It takes a bit of time for adjustment for them, such as balance & mobility issues but they do
learn to adapt.
I wish that they felt they could just remove the affected portion but not do an amputation. If it has spread
some then I definitely understand the rationale behind the surgery. He should pull through being under
anesthesia, most do, so that shouldn't be too much of a concern. It should be dealt with pretty soon if
it's growing like that. What a horrible predicament he is in & you for having to go through it all with him.
When do you think you are going to have to make a final decision of surgery?


Keep us posted on the situation.

Tracie
 

Lilith86

Member
Original Poster
Hi all,

We've decided to go ahead with the surgery, but we are going to do pre-anesthetic blood work so we can be as sure as possible that he will tolerate and heal well. I dropped him off last night, and they said that he was scheduled for surgery some time this afternoon. They said they would call me before and after surgery to give me updates.

I'll keep you all posted as things develop. Now to just sit at work, waiting for updates, trying not to explode...
 

AHBD

BD.org Sicko
Awww, I truly hope for a good outcome ! I can't imagine how nervous you are. It sounds like he's in otherwise good health and should tolerate the surgery. Best wishes to Agni and you, his family !
 

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