Pig has 23-pound tumor removed in lifesaving surgery

Itty Bitty Potbellied Pig
Washington State University

PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University veterinarians performed a life-saving surgery on a potbellied pig named Itty Bitty, removing a 23-pound tumor from her stomach!

Itty Bitty was turned over to the Animal Angels Refuge in Ellensburg by her owner, and volunteers knew the pig was likely suffering. Her eyes were drooping, ears were limp and she was skin and bones aside from the massive tumor on her stomach, which hung to the ground.

Volunteers then took her to WSU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital, and no one was sure Itty Bitty would survive the night.

“Most of the time, in cases like this, the animal will die on the surgery table just from losing too much blood,” said agricultural animal intern Dr. Amanda Kappes. “There were times we thought we were going to lose her, but she pulled through.”

Kappes ordered an ultrasound and X-rays, which revealed a large mass in the pig’s abdomen, which prompted veterinarians to perform an exploratory surgery.

“We really had no idea what we were going to find once we opened her up,” said fourth-year student Shelby Abeyta.

They found a tumor with blood vessels on Itty Bitty’s uterus—the outcome looked bleak.

Despite the odds, veterinarians were able to cut out the growth, shaving Itty Bitty’s weight down to 46 pounds! The tumor was sent to WSU’s Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab, where researchers confirmed it was a leiomyosarcoma—a cancer that grows in the smooth muscles.

“Usually with cancer, the prognosis in our animals is pretty poor. But with the cancer she had, it is 98% curative just by removing it,” Kappes said.

Itty Bitty is now doing great and her long-term health looks good. She now lives at the Animal Angels Refuge with a new family of pigs, dogs and horses.