April 20, 2023
Content warning: Please note, some of the photos throughout this blog post show medical procedures of pet eyelid masses that may be considered graphic/upsetting to certain viewers.
Let us introduce you to our furry friend Jolie. A 12-year-old spayed female boxer, this sweet lady was referred to our Ophthalmology department at VVC Midlothian for an eyelid mass. This eyelid mass was irritating her eye every time she blinked, obstructing Jolie’s vision, and negatively impacting her daily life. Fortunately, our Ophthalmology team could help.
Eyelid growths are relatively common in dogs, and unusual in cats. They typically develop in older animals but can occur in pets of any age. Eyelid masses can be detrimental to your pet’s health and quality of life when they rub on the surface of the eye, as well as cause structural and functional changes to the lid function. Most eyelid masses are of a benign nature, and do not result in spread of disease to distant areas of the body. A small percentage of eyelid masses may be more serious types of cancer and require systemic treatment. Fortunately for Jolie, her mass is most likely benign.
Early identification of abnormal eyelid growths as well as appropriate treatment can prevent additional problems such as self-trauma, ulceration of the mass or the ocular surface, or inflammation of the adjacent ocular tissues. Options for surgery can involve a resection procedure to cut out the affected tissue and reconstruct the lid margin. In large masses or masses deemed malignant (cancerous), more tissue must be removed to ensure complete excision. In smaller masses, like Jolie’s, debulking of the mass with adjunctive cryotherapy (freezing) may be an effective treatment option.
Cryotherapy is the process of using extreme cold to freeze and remove abnormal tissue. It is used once the bulk of the mass has been removed, while sparing the margin of the eyelid, to kill any residual tumor cells and help prevent recurrence. This procedure can often be performed under a light sedation, or even awake with local blocks to numb the tissue, making it potentially a better choice for some dogs. Recurrence rates after debulking and cryotherapy are less than 15% in dogs.
With just local anesthetic and an oral pain medication, our Ophthalmology team was able to remove the bulk of Jolie’s tumor and then use cryotherapy to kill any remaining tumor cells. This should reduce the likelihood of the mass growing back. With no sutures to remove and no sedation to wake up from, Jolie went home to recover the same day as her procedure. We are happy to report she is doing well and is loving her new view on life!
The Ophthalmology service at VVC Midlothian is led by our board-certified Ophthalmologist, Dr. Allison Fuchs. The team is proud to offer this less invasive cryotherapy option for many patients. If you have noted an eyelid growth in your pet or been referred for evaluation of an eyelid growth, please contact us to set up a consultation 804.744.9800. Our ophthalmology team will discuss the recommendations after a thorough exam and help you make the best decision for your pet.