Calcified lump by the ribs


Post   » Mon Nov 05, 2018 11:01 am

Valentina is almost 6yo and has a calcified tumour that's probably partially attatched to the ribs. The vets are at a loss. Does anyone have experience and advice about it?

Some background: I have an almost 6 yo Guinea pig named Valentina, who's been through a lot. I rescued/adopted her two years ago after she'd been alone for most of her life. (In Sweden where I live it's illegal to keep piggies alone, they need to be at least two.) I have Valentina and atm three other female pigs.

Last year she had a lot of health issues, she was castrated due to ovarian cysts and a womb tumour in the spring. That went very well, but a while later she got sick again and several veterinarians couldn't figure out why and recommended euthanasia. She almost died before finally one vet figured out the problem with her teeth and it took several treatments and a lot of critical care to get her back on track.

Fast forward a year and once again the vets are at a loss. She has a tumour by the ribs, that at first they thought were just uneven ribs or something very benign, but I insisted on an x-ray since I knew it had grown. The x-ray saw a calcified tumour that is probably partially stuck in one rib. It looks quite large on the pictures but it must be growing more inwards than our since it doesn't feel that big.

The vets have never seen anything like it, and can't find anything in their books either. It's the biggest animal hospital in the country (I think), with an exotic animals department. They have sent the pictures to other exotic vets and are waiting for responses.

Right now I'm thinking that I won't do anything as an operation would be risky, might not work, she might die or not recover well. As long as she is otherwise healthy, energised and happy, I'll just hope it doesn't grow and that she can live with it for a long while.

My question is: have any of you seen something similar? What did you do, and how did it go? Any advice or experience is much appreciated!


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Post   » Mon Nov 05, 2018 8:51 pm

How unusual! I do not recall ever seeing xrays posted on this forum with such a calcification. So this is outside her stomach? No chance it is something that was eaten? How is her demeanor right now? Is she eating well? Does she seem in pain?

Let me know if it would be okay to add your pictures to your topic permanently for future readers.

Hopefully someone else may have ideas.


Post   » Tue Nov 06, 2018 5:03 am

Thanks for replying!
It's definitely by the ribs as I can feel it clearly from the outside. Have not wanted to poke at it too much but yesterday after writing here I stroked gently over the lump and I think I was wrong in writing it's mostly inwards because I feel it quite largely on the outside. (I really hope it's not grown more, I felt it clearly before too but the vet said I was very alert to notice it?)

Her demeanour and general health is fine. She is behaving the same as always and the vet checked her lungs and such and couldn't find anything unusual.
She's eating and keeping weight on, squeeking for food and being the first to come to the food bowls for veggies. It doesn't seem to hurt when I gently prod the lump, but she seemed slightly discomforted when I put light pressure on. More cause it's uncomfortable having someone poke you in the ribs than from the lump being painful, I reckon.

You're more than welcome to add my pictures, and use them further if it can be of help to anyone, or help figure out what this is.

I guess I'll just have to keep an eye on it to see if it grows rapidly, if so I will have to rethink my decision to not operate. She's a fighter, but I had hoped she wouldn't need to fight again after last year's ordeal.

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Post   » Tue Nov 06, 2018 11:03 am

Here are your saved images (thanks):

I was able to find various types of soft tissue tumor calcifications online. I don't know if this is only bone related or soft tissue related but this is what I found.

For example, the third image from the bottom shows some heavily calcinated human hands, a condition described as tumoral calcinosis: ... cifications/

I don't know if this is helpful but it is interesting.


Post   » Tue Nov 06, 2018 12:28 pm

Thank you, that's so nice of you.

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Post   » Wed Nov 07, 2018 5:33 am

This guinea pig might have had her rib broken somewhere in the past and had a nasty abscess which subsequently calcified. It is not uncommon to see a calcification develop in soft tissues after a trauma.


Post   » Wed Nov 07, 2018 10:10 am

Interesting theory. Do you know how long it would be to develop such a calcification?

She's not broken a rib while living here (almost two years), to my knowledge at least. And she's been to the vet fairly often for checkups since she had so many health problems last year.
I guess though, since they're so good at hiding injuries and illnesses, that it is possible she would have injured herself somehow (she's quite active, running around, jumping, popping etc) and then hidden it so well I didn't notice. Or maybe while she was so sick that she got a small fracture that maybe even she herself didn't notice. She was VERY thin at that time, and on constant pain medication already. It could have made her a bit fragile in her bones, losing so much weight.

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Post   » Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:38 am

During those two years, did you have occasion to have any xrays done? Looking at past xrays could give you clues.


Post   » Thu Nov 08, 2018 7:41 am

Hmm, no I don't think so. The only x-rays where on her teeth last year, for the ovarian cysts I think they did an ultrasound. So no clues there unfortunately. Would a calcification from a fracture get so big though? I would say this lump is about 1*1 cm. As you can see on the pictures it's a lot wider than the rib.

I worry it's starting to affect her, she had lost weight when I weighed her yesterday. Not much, but seeing as the other three had gained a little bit of weight, and she has the lump, it worries me. :(

I so wish veterinary science and resources was as good for guinea pigs as they are for bigger animals like dogs. I feel that I'd at least get some answers.

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Post   » Thu Nov 08, 2018 8:07 am

What I would do is watch for signs of pain and provide pain relief if you see any. Her weight loss may be unrelated to this issue.

Perhaps Kimera can comment.

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Post   » Thu Nov 08, 2018 8:54 am

No, I'm sorry. My opinion was only a shot in the dark. I also wish veterinarians were more knowledgeable about guinea pigs.
Anyway, since surgical intervention is out of question, the only thing you can do is, as Lynx said, provide palliative care.


Post   » Thu Nov 08, 2018 1:15 pm

Thank you both. I spoke to my vet, who has consulted other vets. So the exotic vets in the country have discussed, and I'm at least very happy that they take it seriously, reach out and try to find knowledge and try to come up with a solution.

Unfortunately, they haven't come up with an answer, more than saying that it's very rare with sceletal tumours in guinea pigs and that an operation would be too risky.
If they were to operate they would need to remove part of or the whole rib. It would be high risk of perforating the lung sack (sorry if I get the terminology wrong in English, I barely understand it in Swedish!) and as intubating a guinea pig is very difficult, odds are she'd die from such a complication.

Doing a biopsy when we know we can't operate after then seems even more pointless.

So I'll just keep an eye on her (well, atm I can barely keep my eyes off her as I'm so scared off the tumour growing or affecting her in any way) and if she seems to be in pain I'll start her on pain killers. I know her well by now, after last years ordeal, so I know how she behaves and looks when she's in pain. If she starts having other symptoms of the tumour affecting her I guess I'll just prepare for the worst and watch out for the day she is ready to go. I know I won't be, but who can ever be...

Hopefully she can live with it for long. I had a dog who lived for years after she got a mammary tumour (not sure what it's called? Breast cancer basically.) that we couldn't operate due to her age. She was about 12 when she got it and lived to be almost 15 years old. Fingers crossed Valentina can be with us for another year or so...

Once again, thank you both for your input, I really appreciate it.

Picture of Valentina from last year:

For the Love of Pigs

Post   » Thu Nov 08, 2018 3:25 pm

She's a beautiful little girl!

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Post   » Thu Nov 08, 2018 8:00 pm

Oh, she is indeed! I'm glad you posted a picture of her.


Post   » Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:10 am

Thank you! She is so precious, such a funny little personality.

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Supporter in 2018

Post   » Fri Nov 09, 2018 1:28 pm

How pretty!!

Clint The Cuy

Post   » Sat Nov 10, 2018 2:40 pm

Is she experiencing any other clinical symptoms aside from the palpable lump? If it’s just an incidental finding and she is otherwise comfortable, I don’t know how much I would do about it. Manage her pain if it comes as you’ve already mentioned.

I would just continue to monitor it for change. If it is benign and/or slow growing, she may not ever be affected by it, especially when considering her age.


Post   » Sun May 05, 2019 4:11 pm

Hi everyone.
Just a little update on Valentina. She is still going strong, although I her lump is growing, it's growing slowly thank goddess.
I thought I'd lose her in February as she'd had a urinal tract infection and then one of her lymph nodes swelled up so I thought she had lymphoma. (I've had two pigs that died from lymphoma, a rapidly onset version that had them showing a lot of UTI symptoms before the swelling showed the real problem. They were sisters, one died when she was 3 yo, one month after diagnosis, the other one died in January this year one DAY after diagnosis. 4.5 yo, not showing any signs of illness until 2 days before she died. That's why my first thought was lymphoma.)

Thankfully, it wasn't lymphoma. She got better with some TLC, and me watching over her like a hawk.

I'm worried about her now, as her lump is growing and I'm worried about how long she'll last without feeling much discomfort from it. She's a tough cookie, but she's not immortal (unfortunately).

For now she's enjoying spring and having grass for dinner every day!

Image of her and her friend Lilla My:

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Supporter in 2019

Post   » Sun May 05, 2019 7:14 pm

I can't see the image, but that's encouraging news. Fingers crossed that she continues to do well for as long as possible. Thanks for the update!


Post   » Thu May 16, 2019 12:55 pm

Yeah, not sure why the link broke... Check out my IG @ guineapigsandadog if you want to see pics!

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