The young lady's dwarf hamster has a pink mass
The young lady's vet gave a baytril 1% oral antibiotic 2
days ago. He said he would not operate as he was not
able to do so.
So the young lady must have had surfed the net and
brought her hamster to me. I did not ask her. Nowadays,
young people are "google" people and they sometimes know
more than the vet regarding specific niche conditions of
their pets! A vet has to know everything in the hamster
from nose to toe and that is only one species. How about
dogs, cats, terrapins, guinea pigs, birds and fishes,
iguanas and others? This comes from time in practice.
Vets are not Gods and will need time to become
experienced. Pet owners need to understand this.
She knew that her hamster's left pouch had turned inside
out and needed to get a vet to operate. A pink mass
dangled from the left cheek. One end had become black, a
sign of gangrene. Blood supply has been cut off. The
surrounding part had turned yellow due to bacterial
infection. A speck of yellow pus dried on the
"Antibiotics will not shrink the dwarf hamster's cheek
pouch inwards," I said. "Your hamster needs surgery and
the end of the infected pouch needs to be cut away.
There is anaesthetic risk. Will you accept the risk?"
The young lady had no choice. If she did not consent to
the operation, the hamster will die from infections. If
she consented, the hamster may return to a normal life.
I would operate together with Dr Vanessa. Everted cheek
pouch surgery is best seen once. The risk is not surgery
Isoflurane gas was used. The assistant must focus on
this. Dr Vanessa operated with me. "It is a simple
surgery compared to Caesarean section or spay. Clamp the
pouch first," I said. "Cut and stitch".
It is easy to lecture. The hamster woke up from the gas
anaesthesia and needed to be given the gas again. The
necrotic end was excised with scalpel. Anesthesia again.
Stitch 6/0 absorbable x 3 interrupted.
"Don't stress the hamster," I gave this advice to Dr
Vanessa. "Unclamp as the hamster had woken up and may
die of fright struggling with a clamp. The correct way
is to give the gas anaesthesia again."
On unclamping, the cut end of the pouch shrank inwards.
"No problem with that," I said. "Used the forceps to
pull out the cut ends to give 3 simple interrupted
As long as the hamster is anaesthesized adequately
without killing him, the stitching is not a problem. The
pouch was thus stitched with 6/0 absorbable sutures. The
hamster went home to a happy young lady. There was
slight bleeding and she would take care of it. "Use the
other vet's antibiotics to save you some money," I said.
"Do you want to take the excised pouch home with you?"
She shook her head. I showed her the illustration of how
the pouch was excised. She seemed to be in a hurry and
so I did not detain her. Overall, this was a
satisfactory outcome. As long as the hamster survives
the anaesthesia, the surgery is not complicated and the
hamster owner is usually very delighted with the
Questions asked by owner:
1. Feed liquid food? No need.
2. Can she store food? Not much as 80% had been cut off
in the left cheek pouch. The right cheek pouch is still
3. What if she did not get surgery done?
Pus already in pouch. Gangrene tip. Hamster will die
4. "The hamster had pulled out a stitch," she phoned me
later. "The stitch could have been cut longer and
therefore looked loose," I said. But she did not turn up
for a check up. I presumed all are well as I did not see
her 7 days after surgery nor hear from her by phone.
"Warts seen in right ear," I had said to the young lady.
"If they grow bigger or the hamster feels itchy, they
need to be excised." Presently her vet had give some
anti-fungal wash to the other hamster with similar
problem. Both hamsters live by themselves.
How an everted cheek pouch
is operated at Toa Payoh
Isoflurane + oxygen gas
anaesthesia was used in this
hamster. Does not squeak or bite the vet! But my
assistant Min does not take chances. He wears the
hand grove when handling this hamster!
AN E-MAIL FROM A HAMSTER OWNER
E-MAIL TO DR SING DATED MAY 22, 2011
I have a hamster that has an everted cheek pouch. Since
yesterday, her cheek pouch has been hanging outside her
mouth. She seems to be in pain. Does she have to go to
surgery? How much does it cost and how long does it
take? I would also like to make an appointment on
Wednesday, 25th May 2011 between 3 to 5 pm. Can you
confirm if you are available? Please reply as soon as
possible. Thank you.
E-MAIL REPLY FROM DR SING Tuesday, May 22, 2011 2.04 am
I am Dr Sing from Toa Payoh Vets. Thank you for your
In reply, your hamster may need surgery if the everted
cheek pouch cannot be put back inside the cheek, e.g. if
it is infected and damaged badly. Cost is capped at the
maximum of $150 for consultation, anaesthesia and
surgery (longer duration as likely to be in your case).
It takes around 10 minutes for surgery but with
preparation and gas anaesthesia to effect, it will be
around 25 minutes.