“Duke” had been anorexic for about a month. He was defecating some and drinking a little water. He was evaluated at the Texas A&M University Veterinary Medical Center and our initial exam showed a normal looking geriatric potbellied pig with normal temperature, elevated respiratory rate (from car ride and handling) and possibly enlarged abdomen. The ultrasound was not fruitful due to layers of fat. Regular abdominal x ray (with “Duke” awake and standing) showed loops of intestines distended with gas and a completely full stomach (even though he had not eaten for a month except for a few bites of watermelon that morning). The owner had been getting some
dry feces out of rectum with a gloved hand and speculated he was just very
I was able to get out some feces with a lubed, gloved hand on the day he arrived. Arrangements were made to xray the stomach the following day to see if it was emptying (supposed to empty in about 5 hours). The next day, the x ray was done and the stomach was still full of ingesta. Although it is impossible to radiographically visualize any non-radio opaque foreign body such as a sock or towel, gastric foreign body was still in our differential diagnoses. Based on these findings, exploratory surgery was scheduled as soon as possible because “Duke” was becoming more uncomfortable.
This was a grueling 4 hour surgery that didn’t begin until 5:00 PM. After the stricture of the spiral colon was identified, a typhlotomy (incising the end of cecum) was performed to get the gas and contents out of the spiral colon before the intestines could be manipulated. Then the spiral colon bypass was done using a side-to-side anastomosis technique. The third procedure (first two were typhlotomy and anastomosis) was a gastrotomy (cutting into the stomach) and removal of most of the stomach contents to
search for possible foreign objects (none found). Each of these procedures is a major surgery. To resolve his problem, it was necessary for “Duke” to undergo these three major surgeries at one time. “Duke” remained in the hospital for a number of days following the surgery at which time he ate, drank and urinated. On the 6th day he passed feces and was sent home with the owner and he completely recovered.
For a detailed description of a recent, almost identical surgery performed on another potbellied pig, see JAVMA, Vol. 222, No. 10, May 15, 2003, 1408 Scientific Reports: Clinical Report, “Spiral colon bypass in a geriatric Vietnamese potbellied pig” by Mark A. Gallardo, DVM,; D. Bruce Lawhorn, DVM, MS; Tex S. Taylor, DVM, DACVS; Michael A. Walker, DVM, DACVR.