Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Mass or Tumor Removal



Tumors and other solid abnormal growths are removed surgically. Whether or not general anesthesia is required depends on the location of the growth and size of the mass.

Your vet determines the goal of mass removal. If the mass is considered malignant, then the goal might be removal of wide tissue margins, reducing the likelihood that tumor tissue might be left in the body. On the other hand, for a benign mass, the goal might be minimal disruption of surrounding tissue to reduce healing time. Your vet’s job is to provide the most functional and cosmetic job possible, and to educate you as to what to expect of the healing wound and what to look for in the future.

Your role may be to monitor the area carefully for swelling, drainage or any other sign your vet thinks is important.

Consider Potential Side Effects & Complications

When a mass is removed, there is always the possibility that the surgical incision might experience problems. There is a chance that the wound may open. Depending on the tissue type and nature of the mass, there might be a chance of growth recurrence.

Consider Reasons Not To Use This Treatment

Surgery may not be the best choice in areas in which there is little tissue to work with, or the removed tissue will cause loss of function. A common example of such an area is the tissue around the eye. Large mass removal here can result in loss of function of the eyelids.

Is It working? Timeframe for effect

Depending upon the specific type of growth, you will monitor the site for regrowth of the mass, and look for masses elsewhere on the body. Of course, the mass will be gone when the horse returns home. But there will probably be swelling, which should slowly diminish.

Questions To Ask My Vet

  • What are the chances of mass recurrence?
  • What do I need to do for follow-up care at home?
  • When do sutures need to be removed?
Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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