545 – Intussusception and Other GI Accidents

Veterinary Voice (1)

Intussusception and Other GI Accidents

Dr. Marty Greer, DVM is back with host Laura Reeves to discuss Intussusception and other GI related accidents that may affect our dogs.

“Intussusception is when the intestinal tract invaginates, or folds up on itself, so accordions on itself,” Greer said. “So, a piece of the intestine slips into another piece of the intestine, all aligned. And unfortunately, what happens when that occurs, is the blood flow is compromised to that part of the intestines and very quickly the dog gets into trouble.

“(They have) vomiting, diarrhea, they look really sick, really fast. So, it doesn’t look like your garden variety, ‘I ate grass and vomited’ or, you know, those kinds of things. It ranks up there in severity with parvovirus (and bloat). There’s a lot of different GI things, intestinal and stomach things that happen as intestinal accidents.

“So, it’s one of those intestinal accidents that happen. If intussusception happens, they’re almost always young puppies. They’re almost always associated with a heavy parasite load.

“Any parasite, usually roundworms, but any parasite, anything that can make the gut hyper motile. So, increase the motility of the activity of the gut to the point that it gets really angry and it just sucks in. It’s sort of like if you take off your sock and you kind of pull it wrong side out for part of it. That’s kind of how it looks. It has this double loop of intestines, so it’s usually because of hypermotility, although it can happen also with linear foreign bodies.

“A linear foreign body is something long and skinny that gets swallowed that shouldn’t be swallowed. It’s a non-food item, so it’s pantyhose, it’s string, it’s yarn, it’s balloon strings. Those long strands that come off of the rug. Those throw rugs, rope toys when they pull bits off the rope toy. So those are the things that tend to cause foreign body intestinal intussusception.

“Most of the time those dogs and cats end up in surgery because of the risk of intussusception or sawing effect of the long string foreign body kind of thing that just cuts through the intestinal wall. It can be pretty ugly.

“But intussusception is unique unto itself because it may or may not be related to a foreign body. It may look like parvo, ’cause, it’s a young dog, comes in acute abdomen, vomiting, anemic, sick. The real interesting thing is either you can feel it or there’s sort of a characteristic. look of how intussusception looks on ultrasound.

“So, if you have the suspicion of this, a good diagnostic tool is ultrasound. It’s much more effective than X-ray in making the diagnosis, but feeling it is oftentimes what we can do. I’ve seen this in puppies as young as six or seven weeks old, and those puppies are relatively easy to feel because they’re not very big and there’s not a lot of body fat.”


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