Gemma, a beautiful 10-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel arrived at the Magill Hospital after she attempted to eat a mixture of fishhooks, line and sinkers. Gemma’s owners managed to prevent her from swallowing much of the material but were confident that some of the material was ingested. She had a radiograph taken at her local clinic, which showed a large fish hook was still present in her stomach.
The shear size of the hook meant it was very unlikely to pass and if left inside Gemma would likely pierce her stomach or intestine, which could lead to a life-threatening peritonitis. That left us with two options of how to proceed. The first being endoscopic removal, where a camera would be passed down the oesophagus along with a grapple device to attempt to locate and remove the hook. The process is reminiscent of the arcade grapple games where you use a claw to grab the soft toy prize. The second option was a gastrotomy, which would involve surgical removal directly from the stomach.
Needless to say the hook needed to be removed. Gemma was referred to our Hospital for endoscopic removal and the latter would obviously be a bigger procedure and involve a slower and more serious recovery period. Given Gemma doesn’t tolerate anaesthetics and that she has other medical concerns, the decision was made to proceed with the endoscope initially and then to surgery if it was clear that the endoscopic removal was not a viable option.
She was put under a general anaesthetic and the endoscope passed into her stomach. She needed to be rotated until the hook could be located. This was no easy task as Gemma had a stomach full of dog food. Luckily when located it had not pierced the stomach wall meaning we could attempt removal in this way. The difficulty then was grabbing the shaft of the hook in such a way that the barb faced backwards, so that on removal it would not pierce the oesophagus and get caught. With a team of three we were in time able to grab the hook in such a way that we could remove it successfully.
Thankfully in Gemma’s case we were able to avoid surgery. She was unhooked from her dilemma and made a smooth recovery. Gemma has no plans to go fishing any time soon.