Sometime in October 2010, I was preparing myself mentally for my night shifts at the veterinary hospital I worked for in Makati. I was riding the MRT when my boss called me and said, “You have surgery tonight.”

He asked me to perform gastrotomy in a Cat referred to my care. The results of the feline’s hematology tests, as well as those for serum chemistry and X-rays, were forwarded to my email.

At the time, I wondered why it had to be referred to me. I then found out later that the Cat swallowed a threaded needle, and the poor thing was not sedated well when they tried to remove it. In the ensuing scuffle, the staff had inadvertently pushed the needle and thread towards the esophagus. Miraculously, It was shocking that the needle proceeded into the esophagus without even perforating any structures!

When I arrived at the hospital, I asked the staff to do a new set of X-rays for me to assess where exactly the needle had moved to. Fortunately, it was already inside the stomach. Had it punctured any soft tissue structures on its way there, things would have ended differently. But it was smack in the middle of the stomach.

So, I smiled and said to myself, “This is gonna be a walk in the park,” modesty aside. Since the blood count and blood panel were normal, I went ahead with the operation. 

UNEVENTFUL SURGERY 

I reviewed my knowledge of anatomy, both normal and surgical. I then prepped for the surgery. 

BEST PRACTICE
It would be ideal to perform only suture patterns that have good apposition. It’s important to inspect the mucus lining of the stomach for any palpable lesions, whether they are tumors, ulcers, or any other type of growth.

In the case of the Cat under my care, the needle and thread that I recovered from the stomach was placed in a plastic case for the owners to identify. Seeing the evidence would help them achieve closure, at the same time remind them of the importance of ensuring that all needles are kept away from the Cat’s reach. If the same accident were to happen next time, things might not have the same happy ending.

CARE AFTER SURGERY
Even though a Cat might already be out of the woods, we still need to make sure that the stomach goes back to its normal function after the surgery.

IMPORTANT REMINDER TO ALL CAT PARENTS

Don’t leave your needlework unattended, because Cats are always curious with balls of thread and sewing needles.If there is reason to suspect that your Cat might have swallowed something dangerous, please bring them immediately to your trusted veterinarian for proper diagnostic imaging. Haste is of the essence. Putting off for tomorrow what should be done today might prove disastrous.