Tag Archives: surgery

Foreign Body Stories

26 Oct
Not a foreign body, but the largest bladder stone I've ever seen. Pretty impressive!

Not a foreign body, but the largest bladder stone I’ve ever seen. 

Veterinary medicine amounts to a lot of detective work, a lot more so than in human medicine. People can tell you where it hurts, what funny thing they ate recently. Animals can’t. As a survival mechanism, in fact, many animals do their damnedest to not show pain or weakness. This means we have to look at other clues that might demonstrate what is going on.

The last month or so, we have seen a lot of foreign body cases, more so than normal. Almost as if some astrological alignment is causing dogs on the Eastern seaboard to ravenously eat whatever is handy. They come in with the symptom of unproductive vomiting and lethargy. Sometimes these foreign bodies show up on x-rays, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes we induce vomiting, and the dog produces whatever it is it ate, sometimes we have to perform abdominal surgery to remove whatever is obstructing.

These cases become party anecdotes I tell people with office jobs who seem entranced and fascinated by my non-traditional job. Some of the more interesting ones:

  • The Shih Tzu that ate a used maxi pad….out of the next door neighbor’s garbage.
  • The Labrador Retriever that ate a tennis ball, had to have surgery to have it removed, then ate another one a month later. Owner was not pleased.
  • Same story, smaller dog. And instead of tennis balls, it was baby socks. And instead of doing it twice, the dog ended up having three surgeries.
  • A Standard Poodle that ate a Timbaland boot! All we could see on x-rays were round metallic circles in the intestine which turned out to be the shoelace holes. The vet had to pull out a large amount of shredded canvas and leather. Once we looked it over, Dr. N found the small tag with the tree logo.
  • An adorable King Charles Cavelier that ate an acorn. How cute and lady-like!
  • The Portuguese Water Dog that got into the owner’s hamper and vomited a pair of her underwear at home. The owner brought her in to have her checked out, and after inducing more vomiting, she vomited in four small piles, four socks. A pair of the owner’s and a pair of the husband’s.
  • The beagle that ate a wine cork. According to the owner it was a choice wine too. So, at least the dog has taste.
  • My favorite, though, is a story Dr. S told us from when he was a new vet, some 30 years ago. He did a foreign body surgery on a dog and found a pair of panties lodged in the intestine. When discharging the dog, he handed the owners the underwear in a plastic bag. The woman looked down at them and said, “Those aren’t mine.” Dr. S had no choice but to slowly back out of the room.

Any techs out there have any good foreign body stories?


The Master of the PU

23 Sep

When I was a wee receptionist, I had to be taught what constituted an emergency and what didn’t. For instance, if a client calls and says their pet is having a seizure, and it’s an emergency. It IS an emergency. If a client calls and says their pet sneezed once this morning, that is NOT an emergency.

One of the weird things that is an emergency is a male cat straining in the litter box. Neutered male cats have narrow urethras, and if they get stones or blockages, it can lead to serious complications, even death, due to a ruptured bladder. The condition is painful and can be recurring.

There is a solution. Though it is not a pretty one. It’s a surgery called a Perineal Urethrostomy (in most clinics it’s called a PU). Or in simpler terms, amputating the penis. I happen to work with the leading PU surgeon in the world, Dr. G.

Dr. G estimates he has done over 3000 of these procedures in his life. At one time, he was flown to France to perform the surgery, while it was filmed and broadcast to veterinarians around Europe. Another way in which this man is a total badass. Last Friday I got to help him with one of these procedures on a chronically blocked cat named Cuddles. He came in on his day off to do it as Dr. S was too afraid to perform the surgery himself. I was excited to see the master at work. Although (like a good technician), I spent the majority of the procedure monitoring the patient’s vitals, adjusting anesthesia, and handing Dr. G different surgical instruments, I did get to see a lot of what happened. His hands were quick and nimble and before I knew it, the penis was removed.

Everyone left the surgery suite, except Dr. G and I. He sutured open the new urethral opening and let out a sigh.

“You know, Chris, I’ve done so many of these surgeries.”
“I know! You’re the master.”
“I’ve done it so many times that I have visions, and I have them a lot.”
“About the surgery?”
“Well, I have these visions that in my next life, a cat performs this surgery on me.”

That’s the hardest I’ve ever laughed at work.