Winnie, a lovely 13-year old Border Terrier who was taken to her local vet after her owners noticed that she had shaky hind-limbs and was becoming lethargic, inappetent, drinking more than usual and displaying urinary incontinence at night. Winnie’s vet performed lots of tests and diagnosed her with high blood calcium concentration caused by hyperparathyroidism (PHPT). PHPT is a disease of older dogs and is caused by overproduction of parathyroid hormone by a growth within at least one of the parathyroid glands located in the neck.
Winnie was referred to our internal medicine team for further investigations. Our radiology team performed an ultrasound scan of Winnie’s neck which revealed an enlarged right parathyroid gland. Winnie was transferred to our soft tissue surgery team, who performed a parathyroidectomy and removed the effected gland. Winnie’s parathyroid gland was sent to the lab for evaluation, and it was confirmed as a benign tumour (adenoma) which had been completely excised.
Following her surgery, Winnie’s calcium concentration in her blood was found to be persistently low. This is a common and expected side effect as the other parathyroid glands are often not able to regulate the body’s calcium concentration by themselves immediately after removal of the overactive thyroid gland, due to suppression from the excessive production of parathyroid hormone by the adenoma.
However, if untreated, low calcium concentrations can become life-threatening. Therefore, Winnie required intravenous and oral supplementation to help raise her calcium concentration. Her blood was tested daily, and we were gradually able to taper her intravenous medications as her calcium was stabilising.
After 15 days in the hospital, Winnie was finally well enough to be discharged. She was sent home to be cared for by her owners who continued with her oral calcium and vitamin D supplements, as well as lots of TLC. Winnie stole the hearts of our nursing team whilst she was with us and was a pleasure to treat.
Winnie will continue to have regular blood tests to check her calcium, but overall, she has recovered very well from her surgery.