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From the Forum Veterinary Q & A: Suture Site Healing
A viewer asks: Is this normal?
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This Q & A question is from the Veterinary Medicine Forum:

Q: My Newfoundland just had a month of H--L as far as surgery goes -- she was pregnant, a puppy died inside her and we had an emergency C-section done. She was spayed at the same time since her uterus was infected. The surgery site is 18 inches long and about into the 2nd week, her internal sutures gave way, she developed a 3 inch opening, allowing the intestines to drop through. Back to the vet for a hernia operation -- this time the site is only 6 inches long, but there is a weird manifestation under the healed part of the upper first surgery incision. The vet looked at it and said it was sort of solid, did not go back in anywhere so it was not a hernia, but it was not fluid, he thinks its irritated internal suture site that is swollen.

I have included a picture - what do you think? It does not hurt my dog, she's not bothered by it, or poking or prodding it. I am mystified and my vet did not really have any idea on how to figure it out.

I mention now that I live in remote Alaska, where there are only 8 vets in our area and ALL of them have seen my dog for this - they all have various ideas, proud flesh, fatty tissue trapped there - but the one thing they all agree is when you feel directly under the upper epidermis layer, you can count the suture stitches of the internal closure.

Thanks for your time,

Jeanne & her Furbaby

A: Hello Jeanne -

Standard disclaimer: I don't do second opinions or diagnose via the Internet. There are too many variables, and nothing can substitute for a physical examination by your pet's veterinarian.

That said, I am glad that you are working with your vets and I am sorry that your dog has had a rough time as of late! I hope she continues to do well.

I can only assume that your vet has checked your dog for the obvious signs of trouble: heat/pain/drainage at the site, generalized lethargy, anorexia, etc. If all of those potential problems are ruled out, then your dog may have what your veterinarian suspects -- what is termed a 'suture reaction'.

When surgery is performed on an animal, there are usually 'buried' sutures that hold the tissues together as the body mends. The body then works at dissolving the suture material. In most cases, this is barely noticeable, but some animals and/or suture materials will produce a large, non-painful, firm swelling that eventually (days-weeks) goes away. The lump should continually move toward smaller... it should not go up and down in size, get red, painful, etc.

There are many different types and brands of suture material, so it is impossible to predict if an animal will react. Also... important with your dog... the area was previously sutured and there was infection present. These are additional features that most patients don't have to deal with. A lot of movement post-op can also influence suture reaction.

Hope this helps, and that your pooch is well on her way to healthy days!

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