Critical Care

Intestinal foreign bodies

Dogs and cats ingest a variety of objects that may cause an obstruction in the esophagus, stomach, or intestinal tract. While many types of objects will either pass without complication or get vomited back up, it is common for obstructions to occur. Common symptoms of a gastrointestinal (GI) obstruction include vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, and abdominal pain. Diagnostic tests which may help diagnose a foreign object in the GI tract include radiographs, abdominal ultrasonography, and bloodwork.

Treatments options are determined based on the results of diagnostic imaging tests and the severity of the pet’s illness. When foreign objects are present in the esophagus or stomach, we can often retrieve these objects by using an endoscope. For foreign objects in the small intestines and for certain large or irregular objects in the stomach, surgery is required for removal.

Endoscopic Foreign Body Removal

During this procedure, the pet is placed under general anesthesia. A long flexible scope is passed through their mouth, down the esophagus, and into the stomach. Special instruments (loops, baskets, graspers) are then used to secure the foreign material and pull it back out. Most pets who have objects removed via endoscopy can be discharged the same day or the following day depending on their level of illness. If an object cannot be removed via endoscopy then surgery is usually indicated to remove the foreign material.

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