When a senior dog comes in, basically any dog that is over 8, and their owner is worried that they found a lump - that this lump has been growing, after assessing via palpation and visually if it is a skin lump, I put my thinking cap on. Common things are common, and then I also provide a caveat that, we cannot tell for sure without a diagnostic sample.
When I collect a fine needle aspirate, that really is my goal, to collect a diagnostic sample. My goal is not always to be able to diagnose the lump on my own. We have a diagnostic laboratory we send the samples to. At the lab, they have special stains, and board certified personnel to diagnose the lump.
Sometimes, I don’t get to send these samples out. Usually it is a cost concern from the owners.
Recently, I had a case of a 12 year. old MN lab who had multiple lumps. I collected from 6 lumps, all
aspirated greasy or glossy, and wouldn’t air dry - except one that had a few smeared regions, that could have been just blood. Since the lumps were most likely lipomas, the owner elected not to send the final sample out. I dried it, and stained it with diff-quik in house.
The greasy slides wash off in fixative. Nothing stains on those, except that one that had something. It took up stain, and I thought it was going to just be blood contamination.
There are a couple things that look like nuclei, but I am not a clinical pathologist. The client declined sending the slides out for interpretation. So, some sort of connective tissue or muscle were my guesses.
My colleague also had a senior dog that she aspirated a submandibular lump, possibly a lymph node on.
It didn’t really look like lymphoma to me, but what do I know! This one came back as lymphoma.
We are constantly learning, and growing as practitioners. Filling our minds with information as much as we can daily. There are cases on a regular basis that stump me or surprise me. Then those cases get added to my brain catalogue. I am fairly certain that veterinarians never stop learning until they’re dead.