When Testicles Stray

This story is about one of Dr. Sharp’s patients.  10-year-old German Shepherd with a weird skin disease, (worst case we’ve ever seen, actually) called Calcinosis Cutis.  If you touch certain parts of his skin (like along his whole back), he’s literally hard as rock (his skin is…).  Like an armadillo.   He still has fur, but you can knock on his skin and it sounds like you’re knocking on wood.  It was caused by an adverse reaction to steroids he was on for his allergies. 

So already this dog is a veterinary mystery, but that my dear readers isn’t why I’m writing this blog about him.

He came in to see Dr. Sharp the other day to check a spot on his foot…and oh by the way he has this big lump.  It’s kind of up…way up behind where his scrotum used to be before he got neutered.  Between that and his rectum.  There’s a term for the area on a human but I don’t think you can use it in polite company, but basically… it ‘t’aint the scrotum and it t’ain’t the rectum…it’s kind of in-between.

Anyhow.  He had a mass there, and it was a big one, about 6 cm x 8 cm, so Dr. Sharp recommended a biopsy.

I happened into the clinic with my son Perry (the 5-year-old) on the day of this dog’s surgery.  Dr. Sharp figured it would be a simple procedure, take a small biopsy, throw in a couple sutures and be done. 

Perry and I wandered to the surgery area (it was my day off).  Apparently the biopsy he took was bleeding a bit more than he expected.  The dog was anesthetized on the table.  There were two technicians holding his (the dog’s , not Dr. Sharp’s)  legs apart, and there’s Dr. Sharp in cap and gown (surgery, not graduation)  and quite a bit of blood.   He decides to make the incision bigger so he can go in and find the bleeder and tie it off with suture. 

Perry is used to coming to work with me and seeing all kinds of blood and gore, so he gave it a passing glance, asked what he was doing, then asked to go see the puppies and kitties in the back. 

As Perry and I are touring the kennel, a technician comes and tells me that Dr. Sharp has something to show me.  So Perry and I meander back to see what’s up.  He says…look at this…it’s a testicle!  A big one.  (the dog was supposed to be neutered). 

Of course, NOW Perry is interested.  What’s a testicle mommy?  Why is he cutting it out?  I believe in a 100% honesty policy with the kids, so I tried as best as I could to explain the answers…ummm…you know those little things that hang behind your penis?  Those are testicles.  (the techs are giving each other nervous looks…where is this conversation going?)  He’s cutting it out because it’s in a place it shouldn’t be.  Fortunately the questioning ended there. 

Testicles journey in the fetus from a spot near the kidneys down thru a chute called the vaginal (? why they call it that in a male I don’t know) ring into the scrotum.  When they don’t do this, the dog is a cryptorchid, he’s got undescended testicles.  Generally they are somewhere in the abdomen or somewhere in that tunnel, often in the groin area.   When this dog was neutered they had a really hard time finding the testicles.  The previous vet removed two testicles, but it was really hard.  Who knows…maybe he had 3 testicles.

Fact is, this one was where no testicle should ever be.  The normal path is through the groin, not back around below the rectum.  All we could think of is that maybe the dog also had some kind of congenital hernia that sucked the testicle up there from its normal path of descent, where it hid out until it did what undescended-non-neutered testicles do:  became cancerous. 

Fortunately, these types of tumors are easily cured by removing the offending testicle. 

The dog is currently doing fine.

So far my son seems pretty normal after his viewing of the testicular bloody mess (I do have a picture, but it’s definitely not for the faint of heart if anyone’s interested.)  Wonder if it will come up someday for him (my son) in therapy…

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