ISSN 2398-2969      

Gastrointestinal: obstruction / foreign body

Clapis

Synonym(s): Gastric bloat, Gastric dilation, Gastric obstruction


Introduction

  • Cause: gastrointestinal obstruction.
  • Signs: painful abdomen (displayed by stretching out, sitting hunched, fidgety and apparent discomfort), bruxism, sudden and severe depression, lethargy, great reluctance to move, non-responsiveness and cold to the touch, sudden refusal of food and complete lack of fecal production.
  • Diagnosis: clinical signs, abdominal radiographs (lateral and DV), exploratory laparotomy.
  • Treatment: often requires emergency surgery.
  • Prognosis: guarded, related to how rapidly the condition is diagnosed and location of obstruction.
Print off the Owner factsheet on Intestinal obstructions to give to your clients.
 

Presenting signs

  • Early decompensatory states of shock:
    • Hypotension - systolic blood pressure <90 mmHg.
    • Bradycardia - heart rate <180 bpm.
    • Hypothermic - body temperature <36.6°C/97.88°F.
  • Pain on abdominal palpation: abdominal splinting during palpation of the stomach.
  • Weak pulses.
  • Distended stomach:
    • Stomach can be palpated prominently on left hand side.
    • Stomach found extending past the ribs into the abdominal cavity.
    • Stomach feels taut and dilated, much like a tight water balloon.

A dilated stomach can rupture, so be gentle during palpation.

If stomach rupture has already occurred, the stomach may feel flaccid.

  • Severe cases:
    • Unresponsive.
    • Severe depression
    • Lethargy.
    • Collapse.

Acute presentation

  • Early or compensatory phase of hypovolemic shock:
    • Tachycardia.
    • Tachypnea.
    • Normal or increased blood pressure.

Rabbits rarely present early in the course of obstruction.

Geographic incidence

  • Worldwide distribution.
  • Molting rabbits may ingest more hair and produce more compressed fecal hair pellets, and therefore may have an increased rate of re-ingested and potential GI obstruction.

Age predisposition

  • All ages are susceptible.

Sex predisposition

  • Occurs equally in males and females.
  • In one study, there appeared to be three times as many neutered vs. entire rabbits with gastrointestinal obstruction.

Breed predisposition

  • No apparent breed predilection.

Compressed fecal hair pellets have been found to cause obstruction in rabbits with both long and short hair coats.

Cost considerations

  • Costs can increase when assessing underlying disease and with further diagnostic steps.
  • Emergency surgery can become cost-prohibitive.

Special risks

  • Animals in hypovolemic shock are a higher anesthetic risk.
  • Surgical considerations:
    • Narrow intestinal lumen.
    • Friable tissue.
    • Little omental tissue.
  • Post-operative risks:
    • Adhesions.
    • Ileus.
    • Infection.
    • Future gastrointestinal obstruction as a result of a narrowed intestinal lumen.

However, gastrointestinal tract may be successful if intervention is swift.

Pathogenesis

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to obtain ten tokens to view any ten Vetlexicon articles, images, sounds or videos, or Login

Diagnosis

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to obtain ten tokens to view any ten Vetlexicon articles, images, sounds or videos, or Login

Treatment

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to obtain ten tokens to view any ten Vetlexicon articles, images, sounds or videos, or Login

Prevention

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to obtain ten tokens to view any ten Vetlexicon articles, images, sounds or videos, or Login

Sequelae

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to obtain ten tokens to view any ten Vetlexicon articles, images, sounds or videos, or Login

Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Varga M (2015) Emergency management of gut stasis in rabbits. Comp Anim 20 (1), 20-25 VetMedResource.
  • Harcourt-Brown F M & Harcourt-Brown S F (2012) Clinical value of blood glucose measurement in pet rabbits. Vet Rec 170 (26), 674 PubMed.
  • Lord B (2012) Companion animal practice: gastrointestinal disease in rabbits. 1. Gastric diseases. In Practice 34 (2), 90-96 VetMedResource.
  • Harcourt-Brown T R (2007) Management of acute gastric dilation in rabbits. J Exotic Pet Med 16 (3), 168-174 VetMedResource.
  • Harcourt-Brown F M (2007) Gastric dilation and intestinal obstruction in 76 rabbits. Vet Rec 161 (12), 409-414 PubMed.
  • Lichtenberger M (2007) Shock and cardiopulmonary-cerebral resuscitation in small mammals and birds. Vet Clin North Am Exot Anim 10 (2), 275-291 PubMed.
  • Paul-Murphy J (2007) Critical care of the rabbit. Vet Clin Exot Anim 10 (2), 437-461 PubMed.
  • Reusch B (2005) Rabbit gastroenterology. Vet Clin Exot Anim 8 (2), 351-375 PubMed.
  • Davies R R & Davies J A (2003) Rabbit gastrointestinal physiology. Vet Clin Exot Anim (1), 139-153 PubMed.
  • Krempels D, Cotter M & Stanzione G (2000) Ileus in domestic rabbits. Exotic DVM 2 (4), 19-21 VetMedResource.
  • Meredith A & Rayment L (2000) Liver disease in rabbits. Semin Avian Exotic Pet Med 9 (3), 146-152 ScienceDirect.
  • Harcourt-Brown F M & Friggens M T (1999) Intestinal obstruction in rabbits by locust bean seeds. Vet Rec 145 (7), 203 PubMed.
  • Hillyer E V (1994) Pet Rabbits. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 24 (1), 25-65 PubMed.
  • Flecknell P O (1991) Post-operative analgesia in rabbits and rodents. Lab Anim 20 (9), 34-37 AGRIS FAO.
  • Flecknell P A & Liles J H (1990) Assessment of the analgesic action of opioid agonist-antagonist in the rabbit. J Assoc Vet Anaesthetists 17, 24-29 VetMedResource.
  • Gillett N A, Brookes D L & Tillman P C (1983) Medical and surgical management of gastric obstruction from a hairball in the rabbit. JAVMA 183 (11), 1176-1178 PubMed.
  • Botha G S (1958) Histological observations on the gastroesophageal junction in the rabbit. J Anatomy 92 (3), 441-446 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Vella D (2013) Rabbits. Gastric Disorders. In: Clinical Veterinary Advisor. Birds and Exotic Pets. Eds: Mayer J & Donnelly T M. Elsevier. pp 378-381. ISBN: 978-1-4160-3969-3.
  • Campbell-Ward M L (2012) Rabbits. Gastrointestinal Physiology and Nutrition. In: Ferrets, Rabbits and Rodents: Clinical Medicine and Surgery. 3rd edn. Eds: Quesenberry K E & Carpenter J W. Elsevier Saunders, USA. pp 183-192. ISBN: 978-1-4160-6621-6627.
  • Graham J & Mader D R (2012) Rabbits. Basic Approach to Veterinary Care. In: Ferrets, Rabbits and Rodents: Clinical Medicine and Surgery. 3rd edn. Eds: Quesenberry K E & Carpenter J W. Elsevier Saunders, USA. pp 174-182. ISBN: 978-1-4160-6621-7.
  • Morrisey J K & Carpenter J W (2012) Formulary. In: Ferrets, Rabbits and Rodents: Clinical Medicine and Surgery. 3rd edn. Eds: Quesenberry K E & Carpenter J W.  Elsevier Saunders, USA. pp 567575. ISBN: 978-1-4160-6621-7.
  • Oglesbee B L & Jenkins J R (2012) Rabbits. Gastrointestinal diseases. In: Ferrets, Rabbits and Rodents: Clinical Medicine and Surgery. 3rd edn. Eds: Quesenberry K E & Carpenter J W. Elsevier Saunders, USA. pp 193204. ISBN: 978-1-4160-6621-6627.
  • Vella D & Donnelly T M (2012) Rabbits. Basic Anatomy, Physiology and Husbandry. In: In: Ferrets, Rabbits and Rodents: Clinical Medicine and Surgery. 3rd edn. Eds: Quesenberry K E & Carpenter J W. Elsevier Saunders, USA. pp 157173. ISBN: 978-1-4160-6621-7.
  • Allen D G et al (2005) Handbook of Veterinary Drugs. 3rd edn. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, USA. ISBN: 0-7817-4126-2.
  • Harcourt-Brown F M (2002) Textbook of Rabbit Medicine.  Elsevier Butterworth-Henemann, UK. ISBN: 0-7506-4002-2

Related Images

RELATED FACTSHEETS

Intestinal obstructions

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

We have an ever growing content library on Vetlexicon so if you ever find we haven't covered something that you need please fill in the form below and let us know!

 
 
 
 

To show you are not a Bot please can you enter the number showing adjacent to this field

 Security code