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A Curious Calf Case

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Bethan Martin


12 November 2020

Last season, Richard and Beth tackled a curious case of a calf with a strange growth in its mouth. It was noticed soon after birth when the calf struggled to suckle. Removal was challenging as the growth had a massive blood supply - a small nick resulted in copious bleeding! The growth also wrapped around several teeth and was pushing them out of alignment.

We tied ligatures to restrict the blood supply and shrink the growth (similar to using a rubber band for castration/tailing) so that the growth could be safely removed. Then we used a portable cautery unit, to control the bleeding during surgery. Our biggest concern was that we might damage the teeth with the heat.

The calf recovered well with pain relief and supportive care. The misaligned teeth straightened up and no teeth were damaged. The calf is now a happy and healthy yearling and the growth did not re-occur.

The lump was sent to the lab and came back as a "congenital vascular hamartoma" which means it was an abnormal growth of blood vessels present at birth. This is the first case of it reported in New Zealand, so Beth and Richard wrote about it and it has just been published in the prestigious New Zealand Veterinary Journal!

Calf with an abnormal growth in mouth


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