Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Summer is watermelon, lemonade, corn on the cob...

I had a rewarding case on Sunday night. A nice, middle-aged couple brought in their Labrador for vomiting and loss of appetite. Before it even arrived, my receptionist jokingly asked me what I thought was stuck in the Lab's intestines, as Labradors are notorious for 2 things: ravenous appetite and eating stuff they shouldn't. The combination of a Labrador that wasn't eating with vomiting was a big clue to the underlying diagnosis.

Said Labrador (Daisy) was indeed very ill. She barely managed a tail wag when I examined her.Her abdomen was tense but not especially painful, she had no poop in her colon on rectal exam, and she was very, very dehydrated. Otherwise, her physical exam was normal.

I wanted to start with xrays. Especially after the owners mentioned that she had vomited up something "foreign" the previous day. When quizzed about what it was, the male owner shrugged and said, "it looked like corn on the cob. But we didn't give her corn on the cob, and she's in a fenced in yard."

Xrays showed a very suspicious but not definitive looking abdomen. About midway through the abdomen was an abnormal, "bubbly" looking thing. It looked remarkably similar to other corn cob foreign bodies I have seen. The owners SWORE no corn cob! Daisy's bloodwork was totally normal, giving no explanation for her vomiting and loss of appetite.

Based on the xrays, her clinical signs, and the fact that Daisy often ate socks and vomited them back up, I recommended abdominal exploratory. The owners were very worried and took my recommendation. They left Daisy in our care, and we set about rehydrating her and prepping her for surgery.

About 30 minutes after they left, the owner called back and casually mentioned that, "Oh, by the way, we had corn on the cob with dinner the other night, and Daisy DID get into the trash that night." DOH!

Sure enough, the butt end of a corn cob was lodged halfway down Daisy's intestines. Luckily, her intestines were still pretty healthy and happy looking. 50 minutes and a simple enterotomy later, and Daisy was awake and recovered.

Keep your fingers crossed that her intestines heal well!

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