Do you believe that things happen for a reason?

Do you believe that a mistake can be a blessing in disguise?

This is the amazing story of Bandit, a sweet 6 year old mini Aussie.

His owner remembers: “It all started with several “accidents” inside the house. I was astonished.  He just doesn’t do that. After a while, he was constantly peeing. I don’t think he was happy about that”

He was referred by his family vet after a bladder mass was found on ultrasound.

A urine test also revealed that Bandit had a bladder infection, which is unusual in males.

Surgery was recommended to remove the bladder mass.

Statistically, it was very likely to be cancer.

After a heart-to-heart with Bandit’s owner, we agreed surgery was the best option to remove the mass and reach a final diagnosis.

She remembers: “I felt scared for my dog, but I was also hopeful the surgery would solve the problem and make Bandit’s life better.”

After exploring the belly, imagine my surprise when I did not find a mass in the bladder!

I kept looking and feeling and looking and feeling – nothing!

Confused, I decided to call Bandit’s referring vet.

As my nurses were calling him, I continued to look around and found… a mass in the small intestine (jejunum)!

Now, Bandit’s family vet is an excellent doctor and is proficient at ultrasound.

I have worked with his patients for over 12 years.

I trust him implicitly.

He confirmed what he saw on ultrasound and was a bit confused as well.

We agreed that the right thing to do was to remove the intestinal mass and biopsy the bladder to be on the safe side.

I then called Bandit’s owner to make sure she was on board with the new plan. She approved it.

She recalls: “My thoughts were swirling. This was serious. Would Bandit be OK? We had to fix this and do what needs to be done. I didn’t like to hear the new findings, but I am glad we caught this.”

Here is what happened next:

1. Intestine surgery

We removed the mass in the intestine with a generous amount of intestine on either side to make sure we got it all. Then we stitched the intestine back together to make sure there would be no leaks, which would be catastrophic.

Below is a picture of that mass.

Warning !!! The picture is not for the faint of heart. Please skip it if you’re squeamish !!!

The mass was smaller than a quarter.

2. Urine culture

Since there was a history of repeated bladder infections, we took a sterile swab of the urine. To be extra safe, we also sent a piece of the bladder as there are sometimes deep infections a regular urine culture might miss.

3. Bladder surgery

We then took a big biopsy of the bladder. Again, the bladder was stitched back together to make sure there would be no leakage of urine in the belly.

After surgery was over, Bandit recovered smoothly from anesthesia.

After one night on IV pain medications, fluids and antibiotics, Bandit went home the next morning.

He went home with pain medications and antibiotics.

He needed very strict rest and short leash walks for 4 weeks.

After 1 week, the lab results were back:

1. The mass in the intestine was a leio-myo-sarcoma. A leiomyosarcoma is a cancerous mass of the intestine.

2. The urine culture came back… negative! So at least the bladder infection was under control.

3. The biopsy of the bladder came back perfectly normal.

So what’s the moral of this strange story?

Did we do the wrong thing?

Is this a medical error?

Did we do unnecessary surgery?

I would say that the ultrasound saved Bandit’s life!

This intestinal mass could have grown quite a bit more. It could have stuck to other organs. It could have grown enough to block the intestine.

Surgery may still have been possible, but it would have been more invasive, and the outcome would not have been as good.

Now just to step things up in the graphic department (WARNING !!!), here is a picture of what happens when a mass in the intestine is found late in the game.

This poor 9 year old Pitbull had the same type of tumor as Bandit. This tumor was attached to the appendix (cecum) and measured about 20 cm (8 inches) in diameter! And sure enough, it was attached to a bunch of other organs.

In the end, Bandit’s owner is happy with the outcome: “Bandit runs around like normal. He wants to play. He enjoys looking for rabbits (and chipmunks and birds) in the yard. The surgery was a success and prevented future problems. Glad you were there.”

This mysterious twist of fate very well may have saved his life!

Things happen for a reason…

If you would like to learn how we can help your pet with safe surgery and anesthesia, please contact us through

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Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ, Fear Free Certified