Successful Tumor Resection in a Llama

CoozieBy Kristine McComis, May 2009

Coozie, a 13-year-old female llama, was presented to the Ohio State Food and Fiber Animal Service on November 30, 2007, for anorexia and lethargy. She had been rescued by owners Lyle and Helen Carpenter in July from a neglectful situation, and months after initially gaining some weight, it was apparent something was wrong. She was passing only a scant amount of feces and to complicate matters, she was pregnant. Blood work from the referring veterinarian showed leukopenia and mildly increased liver enzymes.

Though Coozie was alert and responsive, she had a very low body condition score of 2/9. Ultrasound revealed that the fetus was alive and in good condition. Abdominal radiographs showed that the colon and intestines were distended with feces. ­The cause of Coozie’s abdominal distress was a jejunal fibrous stricture caused by a malignant adenocarcinoma. A complete resection and side-to-side intestinal anastomosis was performed on December 5, and there was no evidence that the cancer had spread; the surgery was a success. Coozie was monitored closely in the hospital and released several days later.

Dr. Susie Vogel, the intern on the case, commented in the discharge summary that “Coozie was a wonderful patient to have in the hospital. We truly enjoyed caring for her and receiving her nose nudges.”

Pleased with their service at Ohio State, the Carpenters asked our staff to name the baby cria as they planned for the birth in February. As a group they chose “Juna Rheese”, short for jejunal resection. However, as was feared, Coozie lost the cria later that month due to the stress of the surgery. Her quality of life after surgery was very good, and Coozie enjoyed the following summer in a friend’s pasture. Her owners described her as a “special girl with a mind of her own.” She had a quirk about wearing red halters, any other halter would do, but as soon as they tried to put a red halter on her she balked.

“She was a character!” Helen Carpenter said. Coozie lived about another year and then developed a neurological condition similar to a stroke and was euthanized. “We’re continuing to miss her to this day,” Helen said. “We are lucky to have been a part of her life.”