Vet asks musical surgical outcome!
By Dr. Daniel Eubanks, Special Writer, The Beacon
More than a few decades ago — pre Rolex when Timex was king — there was a TV ad with a veterinarian and dog owner studying an X-ray. The doctor adroitly points out the bright shiny thing in the stomach looks like a wristwatch and probably shouldn’t be there. You know the rest: surgical removal of the watch and, lo and behold, both patient and watch survived.The marketing punch line for Timex is immortal: It takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin.'”
I recall being impressed by the veterinarian, performing surgery and saving both the dog and the watch to see yet another day. Timex, Lassie, Rin Tin Tin and James Herriott all influenced my career decision, and I’ve been looking for my very own sequel to the Timex ad ever since. Well, last week I had my golden opportunity. Minnie, an overly energetic yet confused 4-year-old Golden Retriever, was presented to me for surgery to retrieve a flashlight. Five days prior, she was seen to have ingested — whole — a key chain flashlight, about the size of a man’s thumb.
The owners brought with them X-rays taken elsewhere the previous day. These confirmed the presence of metallic objects still in the stomach that weren’t supposed to be there. She never would have passed the airport security metal detector.I questioned the owners as to how Minnie was feeling, and they said ‘fine,’ except for the eerie glow she emitted in the dark (only kidding). She had a normal appetite and was passing stools.
Now, this wasn’t making all that much sense so I repeated the X-rays. Sure enough, as plain as a neon sign at nighttime, there on the film was a nickel-size S.S. “watch” battery, a tiny light bulb, a small spring and a metal button.
Her X-ray looked more like a blueprint of a science fair project than the insides of a dog. All components appeared to be intact and in orderly alignment, probably still within a plastic casing.
The X-ray further revealed the flashlight still was in the stomach even after five days. Apparently, it was too large to pass through the pylorus, out of the stomach and on into the intestines. Questioning the owner found she had never once during this entire time vomited or even attempted to vomit. Before committing Minnie to surgery to retrieve the flashlight, I decided to give her one last chance before going under the knife. I gave Minnie a dose of good old apomorphine, an emetic agent used to induce vomiting.
One cup of coffee later, there was a pile of indescribable stuff on the kennel floor. In the stuff was the flashlight. Minnie was sitting there gazing at her mess, redefining the expression “hang dog.” She looked more like the “morning after the night before”! My Timex dream come true, I seized the flashlight and, fully expecting the Energizer Bunny to be still beating away on the drum, pushed the button. But, alas, the battery had shorted out after five days in stomach fluid. Success, but no encore.
Minnie went home feeling fine a short while later. The owners have the flashlight trophy. I now have upgraded my expectations to be more compatible with today’s technology. No more Timex watches or Energizer Bunny. I’m looking for an ingested iPod that will still be playing Handel while I’m performing the gastrotomy!