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‘Cleo’ and the needle in the hay stack

It never ceases to amaze us the things our furry friends try to swallow! Remember Allambee?Allambee’s fishing trip 
Cleo’s very worried owners brought her to the Moe Vet Centre one morning because she had been a little off her food over the past few days, and had started to have loud, noisy breathing.   
On examination, Cleo had a breathing pattern typical of upper respiratory tract obstruction, and was having trouble getting enough oxygen. Her neck was also quite swollen, particularly close to her jaw.     
Dyspnoea (the technical name for difficulty breathing) is an emergency presentation. These situations require quick thinking, and remembering your ‘ABC’s’. ‘ABC’ is the key to Emergency Medicine: Airway, Circulation and Breathing.  
Cleo was anaesthetised so that we could secure her an airway and investigate what was causing her trouble.      
 Cleo’s pharynx (back of her mouth) was extremely swollen, and her airway was very comprised. On intubation, the tip of a silver object could be visualised.       

 Cleo’s x-rays were very dramatic!

Cleo radiograph

Cleo’s X-ray: Can you see the needle? The cylindrical object that can be seen is her endotracheal tube.

Amazingly, Cleo had managed to ingest a sewing needle! Luckily, were able to remove the needle via Cleo’s mouth.

 However, the needle has caused a considerable swelling and infection and Cleo was not able to maintain her own airway. A temporary tracheostomy tube was placed in Cleo’s trachea (air pipe). This tube goes through the skin in the neck and into the trachea. This allowed us to bypass Cleo’s upper airway, so that Cleo could breathe while the swelling at the back of her throat subsided.

 Cleo was observed closely in hospital during this time, to ensure that the tube remained patent, and she was able to breathe without difficulty.

 Cleo’s temporary tracheostomy tube remained in place for 4 days. On the fourth day, we tested her ability to breathe though her mouth and nose by occluding the tube, and observing her for a period of 15 minutes. Cleo was able to breathe with no signs of difficulty during this time, and her tube was removed. Cleo’s team of vets and nurses stood by nervously, ready to replace the tube, but Cleo never took a step back and was able to go home that same afternoon.


Cleo just after she had her TT tube removed.

After a temporary tracheostomy, the trachea is left to heal by secondary intention.

Cleo’s wound healed very well, and she is back to her normal self at home!


Cleo & her family

Cleo & her family