All Pets Veterinary Clinic

Needle Ingestion

Meet Sammy. Sammy was presented to the clinic with a history of
vomiting/trying to vomit and inability to meow. In addition, he
had a swelling under his neck.

X-rays were taken and the problem was quickly revealed.

With endoscopy (picture not available) the oral cavity and esophagus
were examined for the needle and associated damage. The point of the
needle and thread could be seen around the opening to the airway.
The thread trailed down into the esophagus.

The mass on the neck was then opened and explored. A large abscess,
scar tissue, and a draining track that communicated with the oral
cavity were found. The needle was removed, the necrotic tissue was
debrided, a drain was placed in the abscess, and the skin was sutured

Cats have an affinity for thread and strings. They will often eat and swallow string, thread, ribbon, etc. Given the orientation of the needle
(the eye was ingested first) it can be assumed that Sammy started eating the thread and ingested the needle only when all of the thread had been
swallowed. Fortunatly the needle penetrated the oral cavity and migrated to a location under the skin prior to entering the esophagus where more
severe damage could have occurred.

Special thanks to Sammy's owners for allowing us to share this case.

Karen Blakeley, DVM, MPH
15 November 2003