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Discussion Starter #1
HI, my dog needs surgery to remove a lump on her elbow. We've already taken her to 2 different veterinarians. The first was a visit to an emergency animal hospital in the middle of the night. They said they could not do the surgery, and gave us meds. The second was another animal hospital, and they said she has to go to a specialist. So they set us up with an appointment with the specialist, and it seems this third group is the only one that specializes in oncology, in my city. I checked their online reviews, and they get a lot of bad ones, especially complaints about excessive greed.

Does my dog really have to go to an oncologist to get a biopsy? Why can't any reasonably good and experienced veterinary surgeon do it? There are many who can do surgery. I guess that is my starting point, with this question. I'm told the way the surgery will be done, depends on whether or not it is cancerous.

To fill you in on the background, I gave my dog a toy on last Friday night, and she started running around the house with it. Then it swelled up, got really hard and hot, and the skin started turning dark red. Her ears got hot. The meds really helped with that - her skin is a better color, and not hard and hot. She seems to be feeling better. We are keeping her quiet and not very active for now. Thanks for your thoughts.
 

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So, am I right in thinking this swelling/lump on her elbow has only come up in the last week? Can you get a second opinion from a general practice vet?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
No, she's had it a while - it only just got that bad. I ccould get another, third opinion, from a general practice vet. Has anyone had their general practice vet do a surgery like this, or at least do a biopsy?
 

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My suggestion to see another vet was because I thought they had suggested cancer on a lump that had only come up over a week, the fact it has been there for a while changes things.

If they have referred you to an oncologist, it is for a reason. And if the reviews for that oncologist are about charging, at least they are not about bad practice or poor diagnoses.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Hi, thank you for replying. I have more questions, but I may have to just go to another vet to get them answered.

Ok, so I went through all those bad reviews carefully, and here are the results:

Greed: 31 people
Uncaring: 22 people
Lying: 5 people
Dirty: 3 people
Rude: 18 people
does not return phone calls: 7 people
misdiagnosis: 11 people
neglectful: 2 people
cover up of real cause of death: 2 people
unorganized: 5 people
un-necessary tests: 2 people
uppity: 3 people
incompetent: 15 people
heartless murderers: 6 people
got letter of reprimand from state board: 1 person
un-necessary death: 1 person
caused human client to have a panic attack: 1 person
charging for things client did not agree to: 1 person

On one dog, they operated on the wrong leg! And they would
not take responsibility for it.

So I don't know what I'm going to do.
 

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Bearing in mind that it is mainly dissatisfied people who complain and happy customers seldom leave reviews, you could imagine the reviews are skewed. But that said, comments about being dirty and disorganised are less emotionally charged than some of the others which could have been posted by people whose judgement has been affected by distress.

Is there another oncologist near, even in a different city?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
And we just found out that entire veterinary office is now under self-quarantine due to coronavirus, for 2 weeks.
I'm afraid of verterinarian offices closing down.
 

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My vet office in California is closed to routine office visits. I called my vet three days ago because my dog has been licking a sore on his leg. They wouldn't see him and advised a cone plus keeping it clean.

I believe, though, that they are still taking emergency cases. At the local animal hospital, owners wait in their cars and their animals are brought in one at a time.

It's a very stressful time. I'm sorry you're going through this.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thank you kindly, it's appreciated. The first vet I called (ater going to an emergency hospital who would not do the surgery) was only taking emergencies, but apparently my problem was not bad enough, even though I had taken my dog to an emergency hospital 2 days before. That hospital gave us the meds which has helped the situation a bit, but the vet told us to get it removed within 2 days or there may not be enough skin left to close the would properly. Now it's been over a week. (smacking my d**n head).
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I just talked to a vet on the phone, and he is not taking any new patients right now, but recommended me 2 other places. He said it's possible it could be just a cyst on the elbow. Of course he could not diagnose it over the phone, but he said some of the symptoms were similar - swelling up and getting hot like that. One of the 2 places he recommended, used to be a palce that I went to, so maybe they will take our new dog because of that.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I got an appointment for tomorrow. I had to talk them into it, because most places are not taking new customers now. I am an old customer with a new dog. They re-activated my account, and they are letting me come.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
So my dog had that exam, and the veterinarian thinks it's cancer. She gave us the option to either amputate the leg, or just remove as much as possible and leave enough skin to close the wound. She said she took a sample from a small growth on the ear, and it was cancerous. She was not comfortable with taking a sample from the lump on her elbow. So she charged us for the cytology, but we did not get the result on paper. I've called twice now to get it. They say the vet has to approve it. Why? When I go to the doctor, and get any kind of test done, I can just go the staff and get a copy of the results easily - after the consult with the doctor. I want it on paper. This does not sound good, when they drag their feet about giving me proof that it is cancer. They gave us their estimate for the surgery, and part of it is for histopathology during the operation. So she already determined that it's cancer, but she wants to charge us for finding out if it's cancer while she's doing the surgery. Does this sound right?

We have another appointment today, with yet another one.
 

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So she charged us for the cytology, but we did not get the result on paper. I've called twice now to get it. They say the vet has to approve it. Why?.
Is it possible when you called, it was a nurse or receptionist you spoke to and they needed the vet?

Maybe, if the vet thinks it is cancer in the elbow, that she wants to go straight to the procedure rather than do more tests and then have to go to the procedure anyway?

Sorry, I know I am not giving you the answers you want, I don't think any of us can.

I know it is a tough time and you have difficult choices to make. Maybe take their advice on amputation versus removing as much from the elbow as possible. But if the lump in her ear is cancerous too, maybe you need to know if it could have spread elsewhere.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Well, that is exactly why we want to just go with getting as much as they can instead of removing the leg. It was pretty clear she was going to do the histopathology at the time of surgery, rather than before it. And, why is it harder to get a copy of the cytology result from a veterinarian, than from a human doctor? Yes, it was a receptionist I spoke to - a receptionist who should have access to the medical records. Every veterinarian I've ever been to, allows their clerical workers to have access to the medical records. I will not "maybe take their advice" on having her leg amputated, especially when they have yet to give any proof on paper. This advice is based on what they found in her ear? There is no evidence that it is in her bones. I mean, really.

Thank you for your sympathy.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Also if anybody who answers me does not know the answer to a question, it's okay to say: "I don't know." I'd appreciate that more than ignoring the question. Thank you.
 
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