Source of Sparky’s Long-Term Pain Uncovered

Sparky arrived in a lot of pain. His owner said he couldn’t get comfortable and was having a hard time getting around. She told us he had a long history of back pain, in fact this handsome fella hadn’t felt very good for 4 ½ years! He’d even been to an orthopedic specialist in Dallas who did a CT scan and determined Sparky’s spine was normal and not the cause of his discomfort. Sparky’s owner also told us that he belched a lot, had some flatulence issues and often cried out in pain. All of this history led Dr. Hotchkiss to order a complete medical work up, including blood work and chest and abdominal radiographs.

The x-rays revealed what appeared to be a rotated stomach, more commonly known as Bloat. Because Bloat can happen very quickly and can kill a dog before its owner even has a chance to wonder what happened, this potential diagnosis still didn’t explain Sparky’s long history of suffering. But because it seemed to be his immediate problem, Dr. Hotchkiss proceeded with emergency surgery.

To his surprise, he didn’t find a twisted stomach at all.  What appeared on the x-rays as an enlarged stomach that had folded over on itself actually was a greatly inflamed section of the small intestine (the duodenum). So inflamed, in fact, that what is normally the width of your finger, was larger than the entire stomach – a condition we’d never seen before! Without a doubt, this was why Sparky had felt so cruddy for so long!

The swollen duodenum formed a pouch big enough to fit a grapefruit (remember, it’s only supposed to be the width of your finger!). Inside the pouch were three golf ball-sized accumulations of hair and food along with about a quart of fluid. Because of the chronic dilation, the small intestine had lost much of its ability to contract and move food through to the stomach.

Dr. Hotchkiss removed what had been rotting in Sparky’s small intestine for so long. He then reduced the size of the swollen duodenum by resecting the “extra” tissue using a stapling device, much like a gastric bypass procedure in humans. Check out the photo below that compares the size of a healthy segment of Sparky’s intestine to the swollen part. Even after it was reduced in size, it still remains 4 times the size it should be. Hopefully with time and healing, the swelling will continue to reduce and will eventually regain its normal size and function.

After the surgery, Dr. Hotchkiss is guardedly optimistic. That means he’s concerned, but hopeful that Sparky will make a full recovery.