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Sunny Springs Back to Action

11 January 2017

Sunny is an athletic two year old Springer Spaniel. Her favourite activity is to run through fields and brambles, like most Springer Spaniels. She first presented to Willows in September 2016 where she met Specialist in internal medicine, Isuru Gajanayake. Sunny had been unable to jump, was not interested in eating and had an intermittent fever for 2 months which was really affecting Sunny’s quality of life.

Isuru recommended performing a CT scan of the spine because Sunny was painful upon examination of her back. The CT scan showed Sunny had a very large abscess just below the spine, which was located in the abdomen. The abscess extended from the diaphragm up to the tail bone (Sacrum) and was surrounded by the largest vessels in the body, named the aorta and the caudal vena cava. The abscess was also very close to the right kidney. The cause of the abscess was not identified but a migrating foreign body was suspected.

 

CT scan of Sunny's spine

CT scan showing the position of the sublumbar abscess 

 

Specialist surgeon Vincent Guerin operated on Sunny to open the abdomen, flush the abscess and try to identify a foreign body. Prior to surgery, Vincent explained to Sunny’s family that the abscess was in a very dangerous location and there was a risk of severe bleeding leading to death if the aorta or caudal vena cava were damaged during surgery. It was also mentioned that finding the foreign body would be as challenging as finding a needle in a haystack due to the size of the abscess. The surgery went well but no foreign body was found.

 

Sunny's first surgery showing the sublumbar abscess

Sunny's first surgery showing the sublumbar abscess

 

Sunny first recovered well but a swelling appeared in the right abdominal wall a few weeks after surgery. A second CT scan of the abdomen showed a large abscess of the abdominal wall which communicated with the first abscess which had been previously operated on. Vincent suspected that a foreign body had migrated further in the muscles around the spine and created an abscess in the abdominal wall muscles. Sunny then underwent further surgery which involved an aggressive dissection of the abscess in the abdominal wall to remove all the infected tissue and flush the entire abscess which extended towards to the spine.

 

Sunny before her for second surgery

Sunny before her for second surgery

 

Sunny resting after her second surgery

Sunny resting after her second surgery

 

Luckily, this second surgery was successful even though no foreign body could be found. Sunny is now back to her normal self, more than two months after the surgery. She can enjoy her long walks in the countryside and has a spring in her step again!

 

Sunny 2 months after second surgery

Sunny 2 months after second surgery

 

Sunny’s story is unfortunately quite common. Springer spaniels commonly have foreign bodies (i.e.grass seeds) in their paws, ears, chest or abdomen because they love running fast through fields. It is often very challenging to find the foreign body responsible for the infection and common to operate more than once to completely treat the infection.

A good way to avoid migrating foreign body in the legs and ears is to check the paws and ear canals on your dog after each walk. Unfortunately it is not possible to prevent migrating foreign bodies in the chest or abdomen because they are usually inhaled via the nose or mouth and then migrate through the lungs and sometimes through the diaphragm until they stop in the muscles around the spine and create an abscess. Vincent was very pleased to hear that Sunny was doing great after the second surgery because the second surgery was even more challenging than the first one and a third operation could have been fatal to Sunny.

For further information visit our Soft Tissue Service Specialism page.

If you think our practice or someone in the team deserves a thank you, for the level of service, care and compassion you have been provided, please nominate a star for the Pet Plan Veterinary Awards 2017

Voting closes: Friday 13th January