Case Study – Finnley’s Linear Foreign Body
Handsome Finnley (on the left) is a young, healthy and energetic Golden Retriever – so when he was vomiting, flat and not eating – his owners knew immediately that something was not right. Finnley had radiographs performed to check for a foreign body and although an obvious foreign body was not evident, there was a large amount of gas and fluid in the stomach. Finnley’s blood work was normal, and ultrasound confirmed the distended stomach.
Being a young dog, his owners knew there was a high risk of him having eaten a foreign object, and the decision was made to perform an exploratory laparotomy surgery to explore the gastrointestinal tract to check for foreign objects or other abnormalities.
Performing exploratory surgery to remove an ingested foreign body, such as socks, corn cobs and plastic toys, is a procedure we perform fairly regularly here at Gawler Animal Hospital. However, something that can be a little more unusual and a little bit more complicated, is removing a linear foreign body, which is unfortunately what Finnley had.
A linear foreign body is a non-food item that is typically long and thin, such as string, fishing line or tinsel. The problem with linear foreign bodies is that they tend to get stuck either under the tongue, or in the stomach or small intestines, and then it can’t pass through the rest of the digestive tract. The material will typically extend as long as it can, and when it can’t move any further this causes the digestive tract to bunch up like a bungee cord or draw string.
Surgery to remove the foreign material requires releasing the foreign material from its attachments, which can often mean surgically opening the stomach, and also potentially opening the small intestine in several spots to ensure the material is removed without further damaging the gastrointestinal tract.
Finnley had to have an incision in his stomach, and in two parts of his intestine!
– LOTS of grass seeds
– A hair tie
– Plastic from a toy
– And the linear foreign body – which was the plastic backing from some artificial turf!
Unfortunately there is a higher risk of complications from these surgeries compared to a typical foreign body removal due to multiple incision of the digestive tract being required, and also the linear foreign body can cause significant insult to the intestines in quite a short time. In some instances pets may even require having a section of diseased intestine removed.
Fortunately for Finnley, he recovered really well from his surgery and without complication, and was back to his normal cheeky self in no time!