Treatment for an Intestinal Obstruction

Sorry about the nearly one month lapse in writing. I think it would be good to finish the topic on intestinal obstructions. The biggest question to be asked is, once the diagnosis is made – how do we correct the issue. The answer is one of three: 1. endoscopic removal of gastric foreign material, 2. surgical removal by an abdominal exploratory (or laparoscopy – only if a focal obstruction), and 3. hospitalization and fluids, if and only if , the foreign material is diagnosed as being in the large intestine/colon.

Generally, surgical explore of the abdomen and removal via a gastrotomy, enterotomy, or intestinal resection and anastomosis is recommended. Rather than go into the technical aspects of the surgeries, it would be better to put the emphasis of the importance of early detection and treatment of an intestinal obstruction, especially a complete obstruction. The biggest worry is both where in the gastrointestinal tract and to what extent did the material cause damage to the intestine. This can range from irritation and inflammation to perforation and necrosis (death) of the affected intestine. Early intervention is key in trying to reduce the risk of extensive damage. The more aggressive the procedure required increases post-operative risk to the patient.

Most patients will do well with surgery and recover uneventfully. Standard enterotomies and resection/anastomosis have a 10-15% complication rate when performed according to the literature. The most concerning complication is termed dehiscence (leaking of the intestinal suture line) and require another surgery to repair the area. Unfortunately, with more surgery required, the complication rate increases.

The best word of advice would be to attempt to identify possible foreign bodies and remove them them your pets reach. Some examples would be torn pieces of toys, squeakers from toys that have been removed, string/fishing line from cats, etc. However, if you do find your pets have the common signs – seek veterinary help right away.

An x-ray of a foreign body both in the stomach and within the intestines.

One thought on “Treatment for an Intestinal Obstruction

  1. Pingback: Treatment for an Intestinal Obstruction « A Veterinarian's Perspective

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