Hypoglycemia and Insulinoma

Dana, a very happy and affectionate middle-aged Labrador Retriever, became weak in her back legs. Over the next couple of weeks, her weakness got progressively worse. She was referred to WVRC for evaluation by Dr. Williams, our neurologist, which confirmed the weakness in both hind limbs. However, the cause of the weakness was not primarily due to a neurological disease. 

While running routine blood work, Dana was found to have profound hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Dr. Balog, from our Internal Medicine service, diagnosed her with an insulinoma (a small tumor in the pancreas that produces an excess amount of insulin) which had already metastasized (spread) to her local lymph nodes within her abdomen. One of our surgeons, Dr. Reed, performed surgery to remove the affected lymph nodes near the pancreas but was unable to remove the primary tumor within her pancreas. She did great during anesthesia because of the skilled work of our anesthesiologist, Dr. Cogdon, and our fantastic nursing staff. 

After surgery, Dr. Custead, one of our oncologists, became her primary doctor. With her help, we hoped to prolong Dana's life for as long as possible with her cancer diagnosis and to make sure she had the best quality of life possible.

Unfortunately, after surgery, Dana’s recovery took an unexpected turn for the worse. At Dana’s first visit with Dr. Custead, Dana was is unable to stand or walk well on her own. Examination showed that her muscle tone had greatly diminished in both her hindlimbs and forelimbs. The causes of her greatly decreased muscle tone were likely due to long-standlng low blood sugar that had greatly damaged her nerves combined with the continued disuse of her limbs. Dana’s owners started intensive, daily physical rehabilitation at home. 

Within a week, Dana was almost able to sit up by herself and she began walking around with less help from her owners. Another week later, Dana was doing even better! She was now able to sit up on her own and could walk further distances by herself. She was bright and alert, was much more comfortable, was moving more, and at times she wanted to run. With the help of a physical therapist, Dana’s owners were able to do the hard, daily work of trying to get her stronger. Then a month later, Dana had gained 6.5 pounds and had phenomenal improvement in her muscle tone and movement. We are so impressed with the incredible improvements made. Keep up the good work Dana and family!