Vets On Point After Cat Swallows Needle

Davies Veterinary Specialists

Internal Medicine, Pet Owners, Veterinary Professionals

24th May 2023

A young cat’s owner has told of her shock and fears after realising her treasured pet had swallowed a needle and thread.

Jane Brigham-Curtis, from Westoning, in Bedfordshire, said she immediately realised the dangers and rushed the one-year-old Ragdoll cat, called Lulu, to an out-of-hours emergency surgery.

Lulu was then quickly referred to Linnaeus-owned Davies Veterinary Specialists in nearby Hitchin, Hertfordshire.

Internal medicine resident Laura Sáez Cutando and head of internal medicine Anna Threlfall took charge of the case and used endoscopy to first locate and then successfully retrieve the needle and thread.

A relieved Jane said afterwards: “It all happened so fast, within 20 or 30 seconds.

“It was a Sunday morning and I put the needle down on the windowsill to answer the phone, heard a strange scraping noise and noticed that the needle had disappeared.

“I realised straightaway what had happened and could barely believe it. Naturally, I was extremely worried and concerned for Lulu.

“I am an experienced receptionist at a veterinary practice, so my background told me just how serious this could be and I took her straight to the out of hours clinic at the practice.

“They X-rayed her and confirmed she had a needle in her stomach and needed urgent attention.

“I immediately asked for her to be referred to Davies Veterinary Specialists, where I knew she could get expert care and treatment.

“Laura was great and looked after Lulu really well. She said the procedure was an unusual challenge, although it was good news that the needle and thread had not passed into the intestine.

“It was such a relief. I know there are some things that animals swallow which can pass safely through the system and come out at the other end.

“You can’t risk that with a sharp needle, especially with the thread attached, so I’m very grateful to Laura and the team at Davies. They were excellent and I would definitely recommend them.”

Vet Laura added that the thread attached to the needle swallowed by Lulu presented a complicating factor, as it could have caused bunching of the intestines if not safely removed, so was a major contributor to the decision to remove the needle.

Describing the procedure, Laura said: “The challenging part was that Lulu had eaten food so it was like finding a ‘needle in a hay stack’.

“It was actually hidden between dry biscuits and treats, and it was the red cotton we spotted first, then very slowly we followed it to the needle.

“Lulu’s breathing made the search a bit more challenging as the food content in her stomach was also moving, so at times we lost track of the red cotton and had to ‘dig’ between pieces of biscuits to find it again.

“Anna was holding the gastric endoscope pointing with the camera to the string and needle and I was trying to retrieve the needle with some very small forceps.

“To get the needle out without damaging the gastric or oesophageal wall, we had placed a long gastric tube through her mouth into her stomach.

“After this, the needle was pulled out successfully. Once I’d grabbed the string, I only had to pull it up.

“The whole procedure lasted about 40 minutes and was very successful, with Lulu discharged only a few hours later, having received omeprazole to reduce the risk of oesophagitis (inflammation of the oesophagus).”

For more information about the Internal Medicine service at Davies and the wide range of conditions our team treats, click here.

Linnaeus Veterinary Limited trading as Davies Veterinary Specialists 01582 883950

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