Intussusception – A big word and a big problem

This is the fourth in a series of blogs about pets with intestinal problems.

Kody, courtesy of his family

Poor Kody. This four-year-old Shih Tzu had a very bad week at the end of June. Happily, he has recovered well, but for a while his recovery was anything but certain.

The problem started on a weekend. Kody was uncomfortable, restless, and less active than usual. Then the vomiting and diarrhea started. Medications to control nausea and diarrhea dispensed by his neighborhood veterinarian did not do the trick. Kody took a turn for the worse and the diarrhea became bloody. A second veterinary clinic performed x-rays and suspected either a foreign object was lodged in Kody’s intestine or a less common problem, intussusception, was the cause and sent him to The Animal Medical Center for possible surgery.

An intussusception is a condition where one segment of the intestine slips over another, similar to your socks bunching up in a little ball when you take them off at the end of the day. The consequences of an intussusception include obstruction of the normal flow of food through the intestinal tract, pain, and a loss of blood supply to the intestine from compression of the blood vessels trapped inside the bunched-up bowel. No wonder poor Kody felt so badly.

Once at The AMC, radiologists confirmed the diagnosis of an intussusception using ultrasound. Here is an ultrasound movie of Kody’s intussusception.

An intussusception requires emergency surgery, so the emergency surgeon was called in to the operating room. The three-hour surgery started at 11 pm. During surgery, over six inches of small intestine were removed and the two ends sutured back together. The surgeon carefully examined all the abdominal organs and submitted the segment of excised intestine for biopsy, looking for a cause of the intussusception, but found no abnormalities.

The diagnosis of an intussusception was somewhat unusual in a full-grown dog like Kody. Typically, it is found in young puppies. Puppies are prone to diseases such as intestinal worms, parvovirus infection, and Campylobacter infections, which are predisposing conditions for intussusceptions, but in Kody’s case, the cause remains a mystery.

Despite nearly a week of illness and a major surgery, Kody has completely recovered his health and good spirits and is happily back with his family.

Since the cause of Kody’s intussusception remains a mystery, his doctors cannot implement preventive measures. Kody was dewormed and your puppy should be dewormed too. Vaccination will safely prevent parvovirus infection which could cause an intussusception. Kody had already been vaccinated against parvovirus and other infectious diseases. Any time your pet develops serious diarrhea, like Kody, he should be evaluated by your veterinarian.

One Response to Intussusception – A big word and a big problem

  1. […] article Fur the Love of Pets: Intussusception – A big word and a big problem Share this:Like this:LikeBe the first to like […]

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