RVC teams collaborate to treat puppy in extreme pain

RVC teams collaborate to treat puppy in extreme pain

Last updated 16 July 2015

A Puppy that swallowed a 4cm needle, which became lodged between her skull and spinal column, has made a full recovery after being treated by specialists at RVC small animal referrals.

The eight-month-old golden Labrador was rushed to her local vets after falling to the ground and yelping in pain when out walking with her owner. The owner assumed that the problem was caused by something she had eaten but an x-ray of her stomach and exploratory surgery found nothing.

A subsequent x-ray of her head and neck revealed a sewing needle lodged in the spinal canal between the skull and spinal column. The likelihood is that after Fudge swallowed the needle it became lodged in her throat and her movements caused it to make its way through her soft tissue and become lodged in the spinal cord.

As soon as the needle was identified the local vet practice referred the case to the RVC team.

The RVC diagnostic imaging department used computed tomography (CT) to create 3-D reconstructed images of Fudge’s skull and spine. Specialists in soft tissue surgery and neurology and neurosurgery then worked together to remove the needle. Fudge was in surgery for three hours.

Outlining events leading up to the operation, her owner Paul Manville said: "Fudge had broken through the stair gate and demolished the bedroom - she played with a couple of plastic hairbrushes and had bitten them. Then three days later when I took her for a walk she dropped to the floor and screamed in pain.

"I thought she had swallowed something and had something in her stomach so I took her to the vets. She had an x-ray of her stomach but it didn't show anything so they decided to open her up and have a look. But they still didn't find anything and her agony remained a mystery. It was really stressful as she was still having fits of pain and we thought we were going to have to put her down."

However, the local vet identified the presence of the needle and then contacted RVC small animal referrals.

Commenting on the case, Colin Driver, of RVC's neurology and neurosurgery team, said: "The needle was lodged in between the join of the spinal cord and the skull - it had hit a part where the nerves were, which was causing Fudge a lot of pain. I was extremely shocked to see her walking about, especially after seeing the scan. Obviously we only knew she was in pain, not the extent of the injury. It is just extraordinary.

"We had to be extremely careful not to move the spinal cord when we removed the needle, as like in humans it is connected to all the nerve endings and could leave permanent damage. Afterwards I had expected to see some swelling which might have made Fudge weak or have neurological problems. I told the owner not to expect her to walk the next day but she was up walking around with no problems and was back to her normal self. We were really pleased."