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Surgery Removes Rug Blocking Dog’s Small Intestine

July 1, 2015

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UC Davis surgeons removed a rug that was blocking Corvus’ small intestine.

VMTH "Case of the Month" - July 2015

Corvus, a 10-year-old male Labrador retriever, is a typical dog. He likes to run and play…and he likes to chew on things. One particular evening a few months ago, Corvus’ owners came home to find a rug destroyed. Since Corvus has a 4-legged companion, his owners weren’t sure which dog did it, or if either of the dogs had ingested any of the rug. When Corvus started defecating pieces of rug two days later, however, it was obvious he was the guilty party. For the next three days, Corvus continued to pass bits of the rug, until he then became lethargic, started vomiting and had a decreased appetite.

Following radiographs that showed a possible foreign object in Corvus’ intestine, his owners (both veterinarians – one a general practitioner in the local community and the other a faculty member at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine) were concerned about the seriousness of the situation, so they brought him to the Emergency Room at the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital for further evaluation. Like an adventurous kid who seems to end up in the ER often, Corvus was no stranger to the VMTH. He was previously seen by the Internal Medicine, Cardiology, and Oncology Services for radiation therapy to treat a heart-based tumor nearly a year prior.

Once at UC Davis for his latest encounter, Corvus had an ultrasound performed by the hospital’s Diagnostic Imaging Service. The ultrasound images determined that the rug was blocking his entire small intestine, a condition that would require immediate surgical intervention.

Corvus’ small intestine was blocked from the pylorus (where the stomach connects with the small intestine) to the distal jejunum (near the far end of the small intestine). The blockage was causing a plication of his intestine, meaning it was bunched up into a much smaller area than its normal length of several yards. Fortunately, the rug did not perforate the intestine, and the entire foreign body was able to be removed with a gastrotomy (an incision into the stomach) and single enterotomy (a surgical opening of the intestine) in the distal jejunum. Faculty surgeon Dr. Philipp Mayhew and surgical resident Dr. Stephanie Majeski, of the hospital’s Soft Tissue Surgery Service, were able to “milk” the contents of the blockage through the enterotomy site for removal. Often times, intestinal blockages of this nature will require multiple incision sites, so removing the entire blockage utilizing only two sites made the surgery generally safer for Corvus.

As every surgery carries with it some level of risk, and despite the surgeons’ best efforts, Corvus developed post-operative complications, including a severe bout of pancreatitis (due to the pancreas being impacted by the plicated intestine) and an incisional infection. He remained hospitalized with supportive care for a few days before going home on numerous medications. Over the next several weeks, his condition improved slowly but surely. Each recheck showed an increased weight and decreased clinical signs. Eight weeks post-operatively, he was back to his old self, enjoying hikes and playing with his companion…but staying away from rugs.

About the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital
The William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at the University of California, Davis—a unit of the #1 world ranked School of Veterinary Medicine—provides state-of-the-art clinical care while serving as the primary clinical teaching experience for DVM students and post graduate veterinarian residents. The VMTH treats more than 48,000 animals a year, ranging from cats and dogs to horses, cows and exotic species. To learn more about the VMTH, please go to Timely news updates can be received on its Facebook ( and Twitter ( pages.

Media Contact:
Rob Warren
VMTH Communications & Marketing Officer