“Seamus” is a usually very energetic, happy 1 year old soft coated wheaten terrier. He presented to Welland Animal Hospital several weeks ago with a history of lethargy, poor appetite and persistent vomiting. He was very quiet on presentation, mildly dehydrated, and had a tense and uncomfortable abdomen on palpation. He had been noted to have chewed some carpet a few days previously. He was admitted to the hospital for abdominal radiographs which revealed a large multi-focal density in the stomach as well as the small intestine. Since Seamus had not eaten in the last 24 hours and had been profusely vomiting we would expect his stomach to be empty. However, his stomach was full suggesting that a foreign body (likely carpet) was present and was lodged in the stomach and potentially the small intestine. A linear foreign body arises when linear material (carpet strands, rope, thread, ribbon, plastic, cloth, sacks, cassette tapes..) is anchored in one spot while the intestine attempts to move the material towards the anus with normal peristaltic muscular contractions. Because the material is stuck and immovable (usually in pylorus of stomach-narrow exit to small intestine, or under the tongue in cats with string) the constant movement of the intestine will result in the bunching of the intestine and a partial or complete intestinal obstruction. Continued peristalsis will cause the foreign material to become taut and eventually to cut into the intestine at the mesenteric border causing leakage at multiple sites and a life threatening infection (peritonitis). Multiple perforations of bowel are associated with high levels of mortality.
An exploratory abdominal surgery was recommended and Seamus was admitted to the hospital immediately, started on IV fluids, antibiotics and stomach protectants. A routine ventral abdominal exploratory revealed a large distended stomach and a linear foreign body extending from the stomach to the proximal -mid jejunum (small intestine). The foreign material carpet was removed through an incision in the stomach (gastrotomy)- see below