Lipomas (also known as fatty masses or fatty lumps) are relatively common in dogs. A VetCompass study published in 2018 identified prevalence as 1.94% and revealed that certain breeds (including Weimaraner, Dobermann Pinscher and German Pointer), neutered status, increasing adult bodyweight and advancing age were associated with increasing risk of developing a lipoma.
Until now, information on clinical management and outcomes of lipomas in dogs under UK primary-care has been limited. This new VetCompassTM study used data from primary-care clinics in the UK and provides veterinarians with an evidence-base that benchmarks how lipoma cases are currently managed in the UK, although these results do not necessarily reflect optimal management or best-practice.
The study included 2,765 lipoma cases from a population of 384,284 dogs attending VetCompass™ participating practices during 2013. Key findings include:
- The most commonly recorded locations were ventrum (775; 32.1%), lateral thorax (392; 16.2%) and flank (335; 13.9%).
- Locomotion was reported as affected by lipoma in 38 (1.4%) cases, with suspected pain/discomfort reported in 13 (0.5%) cases.
- Diagnostics included fine needle aspirate in 1,119 (40.5%) cases, biopsy in 215 (7.8%) cases and diagnostic imaging in 11 (0.4%) cases.
- The clinical notes included a recommendation to monitor progress of the lipoma in 1,494 (54.0%) cases, 9 (0.3%) cases were referred for further management of lipoma and there was no further recommendation recorded in 737 (26.7%) cases.
- Overall, 525 (19.0%) cases were managed surgically.
- Of the surgical cases, 307 (58.5%) solely had mass removal whilst 218 (41.5%) included another procedure during the same surgical episode.
- A surgical drain was placed during surgery in 90 (17.1%) cases. Of those drains placed, 2 (2.2%) were active and 88 (97.8%) were passive.
- Wound breakdown was reported in 14 (2.7%) surgical procedures.
- Wound infection followed surgery in 11 (2.1%) dogs.
- Seroma as a complication of lipoma excision was reported in 41 (7.8%) surgical cases overall.
- During the period of available data, 725 (26.2%) dogs died from any cause. Lipoma was reported to contribute to the euthanasia/death in 13/725 (1.8%) cases.
These results suggest that for the majority of dogs with non-infiltrating lipomas managed in primary-care practice, lipomas are not often debilitating and surgical removal has low post-surgical complications.
Full study freely available open access: https://veterinaryrecord.bmj.com/content/early/2020/07/12/vr.105804.full