Monday, March 15, 2010

A needle in a Haystack.

I've decided that I can't continue to keep some things to myself. No I'm not talking about another rant as in some previous posts. (see 8/25/09). I just can't believe some of the things that my patients eat. I'm not talking about edible items. I'm not talking about semi edible, or even quasi edible items such as the Turkey Carcass of Thanksgiving '92. although the turkey story is one of my wife's all time favorites, I'll leave that for another time. Noooo, I'm talking about totally inedible, possibly toxic, straight up dangerous, will kill your pet meals.

Now, sometimes we get lucky, like the kitty whose radiograph is below.

Lucky you might ask, How so? Lucky because the owner actually saw this cat eat that needle. In fact she tried to grab it out of the kitty's mouth, risking her own digits in the process. Unfortunately, a second too slow and the needle was just coated in enough cat drool to make it tough to hold onto and zoop, it was gone.

The radiograph confirmed that it was in the stomach, along with enough cat food to feel a feral colony in Queens. (no colony specifically comes to mind but this is a good time to give a shout out to the groups in Whitestone that are doing a great job caring for their colonies). More on trap, neuter and release programs at a later date.

Of course, the full stomach posed a dilemma. If I waited for the food to pass, who knows where this needle would go. If I jumped in and did surgery, we risk complications from regurgitation, or even worse from peritonitis when the food leaks into the abdomen. Now you know this probably goes well if I'm posting it but hey, sometimes I might throw in a real tear jerker just to see if you're paying attention.

We anaesthetised the cat and I made a large (really large) incision so I could exteriorize the stomach. I didn't include any bloody intraoperative photos, sorry. The stomach was full but after a bit of searching, I was able to feel the needle and push the eye end up against the gastric wall. A small stab incision with a #11 blade and voila, no more needle. Quick 2 layer repair and kitty was home in a day, looking for more mischief to get into.

The thing is, the owner was aware that the cat might eat the needle and thread so she put it up on a counter, away from where the cat usually goes. That's the cool thing about cats. There is no place that they don't usually go. She saw the kitty jump up on the counter and scarf the needle like it was an anchovy waiting to meet it's maker. The rest, as they say is history.

Why don't you guys let me know some of the things that your pets have eaten and we can see who has the strangest tail to tell. If need be, I'll post the turkey carcass story, you know how I hate to be out done.

Keith Niesenbaum, VMD

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