What are oesophageal foreign bodies?
These are objects that become stuck in the oesophagus after being swallowed. They are reasonably large objects and commonly get stuck in the mid oesophagus, where the oesophagus narrows as it passes over the heart and under the aorta. The most common material is large pieces of bone.
Common signs and symptoms
These obstructions are often incomplete or partial obstructions, so fluids, such as water when the dog is drinking, continue to pass normally. But, whenever the dog eats, the food is usually regurgitated back up soon after eating, undigested. The dog can sometimes be seen to be swallowing repeatedly as it attempts to move the material along the oesophagus.
These are usually diagnosed relatively easily with an x-ray of the chest.
These are tricky to treat. In most cases we enter the stomach via the abdomen and are then able to feel the foreign object with our fingers in the oesophagus. Gentle pressure is then applied to the object via a gastric tube. The oesophagus is then manipulated over the foreign object as gentle pressure is applied, to allow it to pass into the stomach. The object is then removed from the stomach and the stomach is closed routinely. This method of removal avoids direct surgery to the oesophagus.
Cost of the procedure
These usually range from $1,000 - $2,000 at SEAH currently, depending on treatment complexity and time in hospital. Treatment at referral centres range from $4,000 - $5,000, or more, depending on length of the stay.
Recovery and aftercare
Most cases will usually go home the following day, not only with pain relief and antibiotics, but also antacids and gastric protectants to reduce complications such as scarring of the oesophagus. Pets will need to be fed a liquid diet for several days before moving back to moist food then finally dry food over one to two weeks.
Bella, Labrador, 7 Years old - After surgery