The Danger of Chew Bones – “I Can’t Believe I Ate the Whole Thing…”
May 10, 2013
Kitrina is an 11-year-old female spayed Shih Tzu mix that presented for gagging and restlessness after eating one of her favorite chew bone treats the night before. Kitrina, like many pets, really enjoys her chew treats.
Kitrina’s family veterinarian took an x-ray and suspected that she may have overzealously eaten the entire bone, whole! She received barium (a contrast agent that shows up as white on x-rays) to see if it could help determine if she had indeed eaten the bone whole. Unfortunately the x-ray showed that she not only had eaten the bone whole, but that it was stuck in her esophagus.
Here is an x-ray that shows the barium (white) in Kitrina’s esophagus outlining the chew bone (black) stuck in her esophagus.
In this picture, the chew bone has been outlined with blue arrows.
“I can’t believe I ate the whole thing…”
Kitrina was referred to MedVet Indianapolis, formerly Circle City Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Hospital, and evaluated to see if her chew bone could be removed with an endoscope. An endoscope is a camera that can be inserted into the esophagus and instruments passed through to grab and remove objects. Unfortunately, Kitrina’s chew bone was so tightly stuck in her esophagus that it could not be removed. Kitrina had to undergo emergency surgery to remove the stuck chew bone.
An incision was made through the side of Kitrina’s chest and another incision was made into her esophagus. The chew bone was successfully removed piece by piece and the incision into Kitrina’s esophagus was repaired.
The esophagus is a very delicate area to perform surgery on and because of the movement associated with swallowing and other anatomical factors, complications with esophageal surgery can be high. Because of these factors and the fact that the chew bone was in Kitrina’s esophagus overnight causing inflammation and irritation, it was decided that it would be best to allow her esophagus to rest for at least a few days after surgery to let it heal. In the meantime however, Kitrina would still need to eat! A gastrostomy tube (a tube inserted surgically through the skin into the stomach) was placed and allowed us to continue to feed Kitrina while also letting her esophagus rest and heal.
Kitrina did well after surgery and after one week she was allowed to begin to eat soft solid foods by mouth. Again, Kitrina did well and after two weeks her gastrostomy tube was removed and she was allowed to continue to eat soft foods by mouth and will begin to eat dry foods in the near future.
Kitrina’s family is delighted to have their wonderful dog back, healthy, and happy!
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