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Female Gp - Breathing Issues - Thymoma Diagnosis - Need Help

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#1
Hi Everyone

We've just joined this forum hoping for some help or suggestions from a community, as we're struggling to reach any clear way forward for our 4 year old female guinea pig Noisy.

Last Saturday, day 1, we noticed she was breathing heavily and a bit slowly, she's eating well, very greedy in fact, and seems quite happy overall, no real change there.

Sunday, day 2, I took her to our vet, a well recommended exotics vet in Newmarket. Initial diagnosis was harsh sound in her chest, later confirmed as right side only, and we should administer baytril and metacam twice daily, in addition to a diuretic shot by the vet on the day.

No improvement 3 days later so Wednesday, day 5, we returned to our vet, left her there with partner Scruffsy for the day, they did an X-ray first and saw something in upper chest, either a) thymoma, b) abscess, c) pneumonia. They needed to do ultrasound, which was done, and showed irregular mass plus vessels common with cancerous tumour. Biopsy was offered but considered unnecessary and somewhat dangerous given location and her breathing issues. Recommendation was palliative care due to size and location, so metacam and F10 nebuliser just to help her airways. Deemed probably OK to stop the antibiotic so her gut stays OK at least. Monitor decline in behaviour then pts. Obviously we were very upset by this diagnosis, we had lost our beloved rabbit only 4 weeks earlier suddenly (non contagious). That said, at least the way forward was clear, we switched to just metacam and F10 on day 4, and have continued as such to now, day 8.

We reached out to a contact around day 6, just to see if any natural supporting remedies were out there. The contact said we should get a 2nd opinion from an expert guinea pig vet in Broxbourne for various reasons. We did this, and after he had seen all the scan copies from our local vet, on day 6-7, he concluded that it was unclear to see what the chest issue is. He said it's hard to see thymoma in dogs let alone guinea pigs, just from a scan. He also said he wouldn't do biopsy in this scenario though, too risky. His recommended treatment is, back on the Baytril, add Frusol diuretic because he thought he could see fluid in the x-ray, go with that for now. We did not take Noisy to see this vet due to 3 hour round trip and he would not do further diagnostics anyway. (Also said we could consider prednisone if it truly is cancer but it's not possible to tell, our local vet thinks prednisone could do more harm than good, so for now it's off the table.)

So ... overall, we're feeling a bit lost and out of our depth. Noisy's behaviour is the same, the breathing seems the same. When she's active it seems slightly better, relaxing or laying down it looks worse. We did pick up some Frusol diuretic today, day 8, off our local vet, we are planning to add the frusol diuretic to the metacam and F10 for next few days. The frusol dosage is 0.03ml very low just to see if it makes any difference, we think the local vet thinks it will make no difference based on what they've seen and heard, which may well be true.

We have no idea whether to restart the Baytril again or not, we're leaning towards not, just because of how certain our vet is about the thymoma, and we hate the idea that she'll feel even sicker on all these drugs and antibiotics makes can stop the gut. We have probiotics but the instructions are weird, mix 1 whole sachet in 50ml (huge amount for GP), and it's designed for rabbits, so currently no idea what to do with that. For now, anti and pro biotics are not in the immediate plans.

We are contemplating a 3rd opinion, but, it's just getting more confusing and less clear. And, we don't know of a GP expert in the Norfolk/Suffolk area. Does anyone know somewhere close to Thetford we could send the scans or travel too whilst not putting her under too much stress with her breathing?

Sorry for the long and convoluted message, it's become a very difficult situation, it's pretty urgent of course, but also, unclear what we should or shouldn't be administering for her due to conflicting opinions on the scans. We are not sure what is best now, from the perspective of any chance of improvement, vs making her comfortable and not feel too sick in case it's her final days.

Any advice, on any section of this scenario, much appreciated.

Thanks

Ollie

PS I'll try to post a video of the breathing later, once I know the text has worked.
 

pig in the city

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#2
Hello. So sorry that you have all this worry. It's very difficult to get a clear diagnosis sometimes in piggies as the diagnostic tests are often invasive and dangerous. Also most cancers are untreatable unless they can be completely excised.
It might be that you will just have to wait and see. If she progressively deteriorates and loses weight that suggests it is a cancerous diagnosis. Breathing problems are always very serious in piggies as they have such small lungs.
I am sorry to not be more positive. Please try and make the most of her if you can. I think you have done all you can and l wouldn't chase a third opinion. The only thing that might clarify the diagnosis is an MRI scan and that would probably require an anaesthetic.
Keep up with the pain relief and probably the nebulizer and diuretics to help her breathing.
Let us know how she goes
 
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Hello. So sorry that you have all this worry. It's very difficult to get a clear diagnosis sometimes in piggies as the diagnostic tests are often invasive and dangerous. Also most cancers are untreatable unless they can be completely excised.
It might be that you will just have to wait and see. If she progressively deteriorates and loses weight that suggests it is a cancerous diagnosis. Breathing problems are always very serious in piggies as they have such small lungs.
I am sorry to not be more positive. Please try and make the most of her if you can. I think you have done all you can and l wouldn't chase a third opinion. The only thing that might clarify the diagnosis is an MRI scan and that would probably require an anaesthetic.
Keep up with the pain relief and probably the nebulizer and diuretics to help her breathing.
Let us know how she goes
Thanks so much for this message, especially given the length of the issue description! It helps us to collect our thoughts on it because it's all got a bit scrambled. I will post updates.
 

Katiedid

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#5
Are the probiotics bio lapis? If so a pinch in something like cucumber or in water and syringed a couple times a day will do (the mixing is just if you need yo use it as an electrolyte solution which you don't).

I don't know what to say about the diagnosis but (((((hugs)))))).
 
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Are the probiotics bio lapis? If so a pinch in something like cucumber or in water and syringed a couple times a day will do (the mixing is just if you need yo use it as an electrolyte solution which you don't).

I don't know what to say about the diagnosis but (((((hugs)))))).
yes it's bio lapsis thanks a lot for this, very helpful in particular if we did need to reintroduce antibiotics at some point
 

Poppy'sMum

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#7
I am sorry :( My own guinea pig died from a cancerous tumour located in a similar place earlier this year, it is possible it was also cancer of the Thymus. What happens is the fluid around the tumour starts to compromise the heart & lung function. The trick is to get a balance of heart drugs & diuretics to stabilise the fluid build up so that your piggy can breathe easily enough to have a decent quality of life. Mine had 6 months where she was very happy eating & doing normal piggy things, the mass started to metastasize & eventually just caused her heart to stop within a few hours, her passing was relatively quick & peaceful at home. We also made sure she was on Metacam & Tramodol for pain relief.
 
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I am sorry :( My own guinea pig died from a cancerous tumour located in a similar place earlier this year, it is possible it was also cancer of the Thymus. What happens is the fluid around the tumour starts to compromise the heart & lung function. The trick is to get a balance of heart drugs & diuretics to stabilise the fluid build up so that your piggy can breathe easily enough to have a decent quality of life. Mine had 6 months where she was very happy eating & doing normal piggy things, the mass started to metastasize & eventually just caused her heart to stop within a few hours, her passing was relatively quick & peaceful at home. We also made sure she was on Metacam & Tramodol for pain relief.
Hi, I'm really sorry to read about your guinea pig :(. We did ask about heart drugs but both vets have not said it should be used, not yet anyway, I may try again. We are hoping assuming it is thymoma, she will pass peacefully too and we won't have to pts :(. We will have to ask about Tramodol but I assume it's the opioid that treats pain via brain pathways as opposed to the site of the pain. How was your guinea diagnosed with thymoma, did they try a biopsy or just ultrasound? Thanks so much for your reply.
 

Poppy'sMum

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#9
I think she had an ultrasound & a mass was seen in her chest :( Her first symptoms were breathing very hard & lying down a lot more, plus weight loss, although she was still eating the same. Her heart was being squeezed so it started to fail & the diuretic helped with the fluid build up but the heart drug kept her heart rate at a point where it could cope with the extra stress on it. The balance between the heart drug & diuretic is very delicate & needs a competent piggy savvy vet to prescribe them. Metacam & a small dose of Tramodol are really essential to any pig being given palliative care; for them to not suffer pain is the most important thing & any side effects outweigh the benefits. Pain relief should be split into 2 daily doses.
 
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I think she had an ultrasound & a mass was seen in her chest :( Her first symptoms were breathing very hard & lying down a lot more, plus weight loss, although she was still eating the same. Her heart was being squeezed so it started to fail & the diuretic helped with the fluid build up but the heart drug kept her heart rate at a point where it could cope with the extra stress on it. The balance between the heart drug & diuretic is very delicate & needs a competent piggy savvy vet to prescribe them. Metacam & a small dose of Tramodol are really essential to any pig being given palliative care; for them to not suffer pain is the most important thing & any side effects outweigh the benefits. Pain relief should be split into 2 daily doses.
Thanks - we had ultrasound too, vet 1 thought definite thymoma mass, vet 2 thought it could be anything so just treat the treatable, which we're doing aside from antibiotics, and we might decide to start those up again, mainly to avoid feeling guilty in case it ends up not being cancer after all.
It sounds like you continued to visit the vet despite there being no cure, I think we should consider this, perhaps fortnightly? You speak about a piggy savvy vet, do you know a specific one? I guess it's still a struggle for us to know we have 2 different opinions, I'm not suggesting we'd drive her a long way right now, but we could perhaps send scans again. Thanks again. Sorry to ask more questions :(.
 

Poppy'sMum

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The best way is to check our vet locator above. A vet experienced in heart issues in Guinea pigs is your best bet, because that is probably the route this will take, because the cancer itself is not treatable as far as I am aware. You could try antibiotics as well, preferably Septrin or Zithromax as they are more effective than Baytril & kinder on their tummies. Another ultrasound could be done for comparison a little while after the antibiotics have started to rule out infection. These are off licence so some vets won't prescribe them. It is quite important to re visit the same vet a week or so after treatment stars because they need to listen to her chest & see if there is an improvement in her breathing, so the same vet will have heard her chest the week before will have something to compare her current state to, if you see what I mean :)
 
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Hi

Is the Vet Locator link working for others? I tried it last night and today, I just get an error message, sorry if it's me being stupid.
We are still weighing up seeing a vet 3, and we are trying to find someone local who might give us extra confidence, to backup vet 1 or an alternative..
In particular given the input about considering heart meds which have not really been mentioned or advised by vet 1 or 2 so far.
We will consider going back to vet 1 at some point, it's hard to know if it will add much though, given their advise is just palliative end of life care now.

General update, Noisy is largely the same, eating pretty well, quite active, weight has actually gone up a bit strangely. I guess that perhaps due to her 1st diagnosis being so final, maybe we treated her to a few more veggies, plus knowing cancer generally causes weight loss.

Meds wise, it still feels like we're guessing a bit amongst the various advice we've received so far which I'm finding difficult, but as of today she's on the low dose diuretic once a day, metacam as before, we reintroduced the baytril for last night with the bio lapsis probiotic, just until we decide what to do next. The thinking there is, if vet 1 does happen to be incorrect and it's pneumonia which vet 2 said was still possible from the scans, we don't want to be sitting on that when we have an antibiotic sat in the house. (We've paused the F10 nebulizer for now, partly because of the amount of drugs stacking up, partly because she seems to dislike the F10 the most. We may do it later but just less often given she tends to dig a bit.)

Thanks

Ollie
 

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#13
@Ollie Roberts , the vet locator doesn't seem to be working for me either. It's not the same problem I had previously, where it doesn't work properly with Chrome or MS Edge, but is ok with Firefox. @sport_billy , @Falken any ideas what is wrong?

I'm afraid I can't help with your problem, hopefully somebody with experience of similar will be able to help shortly... healing vibes for Noisy xx
 
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@Ollie Roberts , the vet locator doesn't seem to be working for me either. It's not the same problem I had previously, where it doesn't work properly with Chrome or MS Edge, but is ok with Firefox. @sport_billy , @Falken any ideas what is wrong?

I'm afraid I can't help with your problem, hopefully somebody with experience of similar will be able to help shortly... healing vibes for Noisy xx
Thank you :)
 
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Hi all, vet locator lead me to taverham, who referred me to another vet in Norfolk vet 3. Vet 1 computer was down so I had to get all the scans done again, probably for the best anyway. Vet 3 said it’s not a tumour it’s significant pericardial fluid around the heart that’s been confused as a mass, probably caused by streptococcus infection. She’s gone from 0% survival chance with thymoma to 50/50 ish with heart disease. 5ml of fluid estimated around heart.
Total switch of drugs, we are now using 1/4 tablet of some fairly rare heart med based on google searching, increase in frusol dose, baytril out Septrin in and increased dose, slightly lower dose of metacam. We should have an idea if it’s working in 7 days,
24 hours so far and no improvement yet, she’s just got a bit lethargic and hiding in boxes more than usual, but still greedy and bright when disturbed. Will update again later but any comments or advice as always very much appreciated, thanks all
 
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