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Biting Off More than You Can Chew- pharyngeal foreign body

Saturday mornings can be manic at times to say the least. Recently I was working one such Saturday and was presented with a lovely big cat called Mike. His owner told me he was losing weight and seemed to be making a lot of swallowing movements and was sometimes regurgitating food. I gave him a check over and had a look in his mouth. I couldnít see anything obvious but it is virtually impossible to examine the back of the throat in conscious animals because the tongue obscures the view. When I felt around his jaw the lymph nodes, or glands as we call them, were very large and swollen, an indication of infection.

As you may remember if you read the article about Nigelís nose it is possible to get blades of grass going up the nose and getting stuck in the pharynx above the soft palate. This was certainly a possibility in this case. We decided the best plan of action was to have Mike in and sedate him to look down his throat properly rather than leave it over the long weekend.

I gave him a combination of drugs to relax him and got a scope with a light on it. While a nurse held his head up I opened his mouth and pulled his tongue forward to enable me to see all the way to his larynx. I could see what looked like a piece of straw across the back of his mouth over the back of his tongue. I got some long forceps and went to grab the object. As I grasped it I realised from the feel of it that it was a piece of bone. As I tried to remove it I also realised that it had been there a while and had actually become embedded in the tissue of his mouth at either end. I gently wiggled it back and forth and eventually released it. It became very clear then that we had been looking at one thin edge of the bone and I was stunned as the full extent of it. As the bone slid from his mouth we saw that it was a large V-shaped piece of what looked like a part of a chicken. Goodness knows how the cat had tolerated it for more than a few minutes let alone a week but one thing is for sure; he was going to feel a whole lot better with it out.

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