Ben is a handsome, well-built Labrador who has been a patient at this Clinic for many years.
Sadly, over that period of time, he has taken an active dislike to his physician who has learned a great respect for Ben's beautiful dentition. As much as Ben would like to exercise his teeth by chomping on an unwary vet, he has to have a muzzle during examinations.
So when, one day, Ben came in looking very subdued and showing no interest in his normal game of playing chicken with the vet, it was obvious he was feeling very unwell. He was vomiting and off his food and very depressed. His parameters appeared normal so he was initially treated for an upset stomach but told he must return if he did not improve.
Ben was no better the following morning so he was admitted for tests and x-rays and scans. These imaging techniques alerted us to a foreign body in his stomach and intestines. As seen here on the x-ray of his abdomen.
Ben was immediately prepped for surgery and on opening his abdomen it was discovered that half of the foreign body was stuck in his stomach and the other half in his duodenum and, because the two halves were still connected, the duodenum was rucking up to a large degree. This is always a serious complication. Because the foreign body in the duodenum cannot move down the intestinal tract (it is connected to the other half, which is lodged firmly in the stomach) the duodenum attempts to push the foreign body down, but as it cannot move the object the duodenal 'tube' starts rucking up above the foreign body. This can then increase the damage to the tissues and lead to loss of blood supply to the intestine causing gangrene. Surgery is problematic as the surgeon has to free the connection between the two objects and remove them with as little damage as possible but it will generally involve two or more incisions into the stomach/intestines.
Fortunately surgery was relatively straight forward and the foreign body (a well-chewed tennis ball) was removed, but a large portion of the duodenum had undergone some loss of blood supply. In these instances the surgeon has to decide whether the damaged tissue will survive or should it be excised. This was a tough call as the tissue appeared non-viable but the area affected was so large that excising it all would cause major problems in itself. The decision was to leave the intestine intact with the proviso that, if the judgement call was wrong, Ben might get peritonitis and would have to have repeat major surgery.
Ben made an excellent recovery and was discharged home that evening. There were no repercussions with his intestinal blood supply and he was soon back to his normal 'I want to chomp the vet' behaviour which was an excellent sign of recovery!