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Sushi's Dangerous Encounter With A BBQ Skewer

Sushi was referred to our Medicine department for investigation of lethargy, coughing, and previous vomiting and pyrexia. Initially, she had presented to her referring vet clinic for pyrexia and abdominal pain. Abdominal radiographs were unremarkable, and thoracic radiographs demonstrated a focal alveolar opacity in the right cranial lung lobe. She was treated with analgesics and antibiotics, but remained lethargic and had a reduced appetite. She later developed a right thoracic limb lameness and non-productive coughing with a terminal retch. Her owner reported that they had seen Sushi swallow a wooden BBQ skewer prior to the onset of these clinical signs.


Examination on presentation to MVSC revealed a right thoracic limb lameness and pain on palpation of the lateral shoulder just caudal to the scapula. Ultrasonography of the abdomen was unremarkable, however ultrasonography of the thorax revealed a linear foreign body which could be followed through the right cranial lung lobe and right thoracic wall. Ultrasonography over the painful region of the shoulder revealed a similar linear foreign body with a pointed end.                       


It was suspected that the wooden skewer that Sushi had swallowed previously had migrated through the right cranial lung lobe and was starting to migrate through the right thoracic wall, with its point sitting within the subcutaneous tissues, causing pain. Sushi was therefore referred to our Surgery department, and a median sternotomy was performed, which revealed a wooden skewer running through the right cranial lung lobe. The distal blunt end of the skewer could be palpated within the oesophagus, and the pointed tip of the skewer had just penetrated the right lateral thoracic wall. The pointed tip was retracted into the thoracic cavity and the skewer was removed. The right cranial lung lobe was removed at the hilus using a TA30V3 stapler. An oesophageal defect was not evident. The thoracic cavity was lavaged and closed routinely, with a thoracostomy drain placed for evacuation of the thorax post-operatively.


Sushi recovered well from surgery and was back to her normal self the following day. The coughing and right thoracic limb lameness resolved, and Sushi was eating well again. This case serves as a good reminder to pet owners to ensure that dangerous objects such as BBQ skewers need to be well out of reach of pets.


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