All Pets Veterinary Clinic

Intestinal Obstruction

Meet Frank! Frank had been boarding at our clinic for a week when
he began vomiting. Symptomatic treatment caused the vomiting to cease
and Frank did well for several days. He then started having much more
profuse vomiting and abdominal pain.

Radiographs (x-rays) were taken and his problem became very obvious!
A previously ingested rock had become lodged in the small intestine
causing an obstruction.

Green circle: Gas filled stomach. Secondary to vomiting, the stomach
can become distended with gas.

Red circle: Rock in small intestine.

Yellow circle: Gas in colon. Secondary to an obstruction, gas can
accumulate in the bowel.

Two sets of radiographs are always taken to localize lesions and
and identify problems. Radiographs are flat pictures of three
dimensional animals! If one view is taken, things can be lost as
structures will overlap eachother. For example, the rock is located
on the left side of the abdomen which is clearly evident on the
second set of radiographs. This is not evident on the first set
since the left and right side of the dog overlap eachother.

Notice the difference in shape of the circled structures depending
on the position of the animal.

Frank was placed under anesthesia and prepared for surgery. The rock
was isolated in the small intestine. Pressure from the rock caused
damage to the intestine in the area where the rock had become lodged.
Thus, the dying piece of intestine was removed with the rock in place.
This surgery is called an anastamosis and resection.

In this picture, the rock has been removed from the piece of resected

Frank recovered fully after surgery and is doing very well. The owner
noted that Frank had been having sporadic episodes of vomiting over the
previous 4-5 weeks. We are assuming that the rock was present in his
stomach for that entire duration of time. The rock did not cause serious
problems until it finally passed out of the stomach and lodged in a small
area of the small intestine.

Special thanks to Frank's owner for allowing us to share this case.

Karen Blakeley, DVM, MPH
19 March 2003