The Grace Scan

The “GRACE SCAN”–a “Golden Idea” that’s definitely worth a look!

When Dr. Franklin decided to continue serving our community from a new location in 1996 he had a very special partner, an amazing Golden Retriever named Grace.  Actually, MAVH and Grace grew up together until her death in 2009 from hemangiosarcoma.  Hemangio..what? you may say…

Hemangiosarcoma is a highly malignant tumor of the blood vessels. It typically arises in the spleen and is one of the most common cancers found in golden retrievers. Unfortunately, the cause for this tumor is unknown but has the potential to spread very rapidly to other organs such as the liver and lungs.

Symptoms can sneak up on your dog and you and are usually a consequence of the tumor rupturing. Signs may be vague such as decreased appetite, lethargy, or pale gums to more severe such as collapse. When the spleen ruptures, the bleeding can become life-threatening and require emergency veterinary care.

However, a splenic mass can often be diagnosed on palpation of the abdomen and confirmed with an ultrasound—the “GRACE SCAN”!

Any large breed dog, especially a golden retriever, over the age of 6 is a good candidate for the “GRACE SCAN”.  The “GRACE SCAN” fully evaluates, via ultrasound, the integrity of the spleen to identify any tumors that may be developing.  An ultrasound of the spleen is fast, non-invasive and requires no anesthesia for your pet.

If a splenic tumor is diagnosed, the best recommendation is surgical removal of the spleen to prevent a bleeding emergency. Biopsies of the spleen and neighboring organs can diagnose hemangiosarcoma and, if warranted, spread of the disease.  About 1/3 of splenic tumors are benign, in which case surgery is curative. For the splenic tumors that are diagnosed as hemangiosarcoma the recommended treatment for maximum survival time is chemotherapy post-surgery.

Unfortunately, hemangiosarcoma is a very aggressive cancer with a poor prognosis regardless of treatment.  So the goal of early detection, aka the “GRACE SCAN”, and surgical removal of the spleen is not only to spare your dog from a medical emergency and/or sudden death but also to give you both some more golden time together!             Cost of scan— $30

-Grace Sollenberger, DVM

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