Pituitary Tumour or Trauma? Looking For Advice

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Theletterv

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Hi there, just in the past few days I noticed one of my girls not acting like herself. At first I thought she just seemed a bit tired and weak, wasn't coming out as much, kind of keeping to herself and sleeping more. But she didn't seem to have any other obvious symptoms, and didn't seem to have any respiratory symptoms which was what I was mostly concerned about. However, within the past couple days I suddenly noticed she could not hold food anymore to eat. She was having a very hard time eating dry foods. Over the past two days this has gotten a lot worse; she was still climbing a bit the other day, but cannot climb now. She can't really eat anything unless it is soft and liquidy or I hold it for her. Just overnight she got a lot worse, now seeming very weak, and now her back legs are affected as well, and her legs are all held rather stiffly. Her front paws also sometimes bend over, like they're "knuckling over". She can't groom herself very well and walks very slowly. Just the other day I suddenly realized her symptoms looked like a pituitary gland tumour, so I got the first vet appointment I could (most of the vets near me were booked for weeks) and I brought her in today. I don't have experience with this vet, but the clinic does see rats and other small animals.

Now, the vet told me some stuff that I didn't think was true about rats and pituitary tumours. For example, that they are rare in rats, and that they grow very slowly, and I wouldn't see the symptoms come up so suddenly. He thought maybe she had fallen and injured herself. I try to keep the cage filled up with lots of places for them to land if they fall, but it is still possible, as it's a big cage, and an unlucky fall could have happened. On top of this, he said that her neck was very painful when he palpated it, so that made him think it was more likely a fall. Poor girl is feeling very bad right now, mostly curled up and sleeping. Earlier today I thought I might have to have her euthanized today because she just seemed so uncomfortable. I was, however, looking into getting cabergoline prescribed for a pituitary tumour, if the vet thought it was worth it (considering how bad she seems to feel), but instead she's on a painkiller and anti-inflammatory, and I'm supposed to see how she does through the weekend. Steroids were mentioned but not given because they have more side effects, I guess, and the vet thought to try this first.

I just wondered if anyone who has experience with falls/pituitary tumours might be able to offer some advice. Can trauma cause these kinds of symptoms? She doesn't seem to circle (but she doesn't really walk around enough to notice) or do any head-butting, and she doesn't have a head tilt, but her arms and legs are stiff and she is very clumsy. She not only cannot hold food but also seems to have trouble chewing it, and eats very slowly. (So I have been giving her soft food and soaked pellets, which she does eat.) She has excess porphyrin in her nose and eyes, but I guess that would be natural given that she is in pain and not feeling well. I just want to do the right thing by her, and of course will have her put to sleep if I feel she is suffering too much and there isn't enough hope of a good recovery / alleviation of symptoms. I'm just a little confused about what is really going on with her.

Oh, also, editing to add that she is just under 1 year of age, she was born last year in early August. I thought pituitary tumours were more common in older rats, but I also thought she may just be one of the unlucky ones.
 
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lilspaz68

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Under a year is very worrying to have symptoms like this. Can you get a video of her, even if she doesn't move sometimes their position when lying down at this advanced stage can help. I assume she was given oral Metacam (meloxicam)? How much does your lass weigh? What concentration is your Metacam (1.5 mg/ml or 0.5 mg/ml) and what dose is she getting? PT sadly used to be uncommon but isn't anymore due to the prevalence of bad breeders out there not breeding for health anymore.
 

Theletterv

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It's Meloxicam, which is the same thing as Metacam apparently, that is a brand name whereas Meloxicam is the name of the drug. It's 1.5mg/mL and she was prescribed 0.05mL every 24 hours, I think she is only about 250 grams but she has lost a fair amount of weight. She is fairly small. She, along with her sisters, is a rescue so she may very well have bad genetics unfortunately... It's terrible to hear that they used to be uncommon and are now more common due to bad breeding. :(

I got some video clips of her. Excuse her sticky fur... She kept falling into her soft food. I was offering her some Ensure (sometimes with baby rice cereal, or sometimes with soaked oxbow pellets to try to entice her to eat it). She often sticks her front legs out like this and falls over backwards. It's quite alarming because she went from completely normal, to not being able to hold food but otherwise seeming generally okay, to this in maybe three or four days.




The last one just shows how weak her jaw seems to be, she can only very slowly chip away at cheerios or yogurt drops (some of her favourite things, so I offer them to her).

It just looks very bleak and makes me sad. She's so young so part of me wants to try treatment, but part of me also thinks she is suffering. And I am also thrown off by my vet thinking it may be an injury rather than a tumour.
 

lilspaz68

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She looks like she has classic PT,but the earliest I personally have ever seen it was 14 months. I would definitely try to treat. Ideally a dexamethasone injection to start, and oral prednisone to take home. And a prescription for bromocriptine you can get filled at the drug store could give you the best results. Poor beautiful girl :(
 

Theletterv

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Thank you for your response... Yes, I thought that's what it looked like. :( It is so sad because she's so young. She's still holding out and I do think the meloxicam has given her some relief, although she is mostly the same. I do wonder if she hurt herself falling several days ago, but I think she only fell because of a PT. Her neurological symptoms are still the same. But, she seems a little brighter and like she's in less pain, but I guess a painkiller could do that regardless of whether she had an injury on top of it. It's still pretty hard for her to eat and she also very rarely seems to drink any water, I've noticed. Which apparently is another possible sign of a PT.

I took her to a second vet this morning and unfortunately, as I feared, the vet was not very helpful. She thinks it's a middle or inner ear infection, despite her not having a head tilt, and not being able to eat with her hands. She wouldn't give a steroid because "steroids are not given to rats, it is unsafe, and there is no information about proper dosing". So, she does not have a steroid, sadly. I have enrofloxacin to give her, however, for what little good it will probably do. I managed to talk the vet into prescribing either cabergoline or bromocriptine -- now that I think about it, she didn't tell me which, but I suspect it's cabergoline. It is, however, going to cost me about $220 to get it from a compounding pharmacy because she said the 0.5mg pills could not be safely dosed. I had to sign a medical release form to treat for my personal diagnosis.

I am just really fed up with vets. :(
 
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Theletterv

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I am relieved because I was able to get a prescription for prednisone from a different vet, even if I will have to wait at least a couple days to get it. I have her eating a mixture of soy infant formula, baby rice cereal, and ground up oxbow pellets with added pedialyte because she really is not drinking at all. I've also been giving her some fruit to try to up her fluid intake, although that has not been very successful. I sure hope the cabergoline will make a difference for her. I should be getting that also in a couple days, because it has to be compounded at a special pharmacy. Fingers crossed.
 

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