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Obstruction of the small intestine by a trichobezoar in cattle: 15 cases (1992–2002)

Sameeh M. AbutarbushDepartment of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK S7N 5B4, Canada.

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Jonathan M. NaylorDepartment of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK S7N 5B4, Canada.

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 BVSc, PhD, DACVIM, DACVN

Abstract

Objective—To determine historical and clinical findings, treatment, and outcome for cattle with small intestinal obstruction caused by a trichobezoar.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—15 cattle.

Procedures—Medical records of cattle with a diagnosis of small intestinal obstruction by a trichobezoar from 1992 to 2002 were reviewed. Information pertaining to various aspects of diagnosis, treatment, and outcome was collected from records.

Results—Trichobezoars were more common in young cattle, and affected cattle did not deteriorate clinically as rapidly as cattle with other types of intestinal obstruction. The most common initial owner complaints included decreased or absent fecal output, inappetance, abdominal distension, and signs of abdominal pain. Common clinical findings were dehydration, decreased or absent rumen motility, signs of depression, splashing sounds during succussion of the abdomen, and a pinging sound on percussion of the abdomen. The jejunum was obstructed in 10 cattle. Hypochloremic metabolic alkalosis and chronic inflammation were common laboratory findings. All 4 cattle that underwent abdominocentesis had peritonitis. The obstructing trichobezoar was removed surgically in 9 cattle, of which 7 survived and 2 died. The 6 cattle treated medically died or were euthanized.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Obstruction of the small intestine by a trichobezoar is uncommon, but it should be considered as a differential diagnosis in cattle with signs of intestinal obstruction, particularly if they are younger than 4 years of age and have a history of nonacute signs of intestinal obstruction. Surgical removal appears to be a favorable method of treatment and should be considered when this condition is suspected.

Abstract

Objective—To determine historical and clinical findings, treatment, and outcome for cattle with small intestinal obstruction caused by a trichobezoar.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—15 cattle.

Procedures—Medical records of cattle with a diagnosis of small intestinal obstruction by a trichobezoar from 1992 to 2002 were reviewed. Information pertaining to various aspects of diagnosis, treatment, and outcome was collected from records.

Results—Trichobezoars were more common in young cattle, and affected cattle did not deteriorate clinically as rapidly as cattle with other types of intestinal obstruction. The most common initial owner complaints included decreased or absent fecal output, inappetance, abdominal distension, and signs of abdominal pain. Common clinical findings were dehydration, decreased or absent rumen motility, signs of depression, splashing sounds during succussion of the abdomen, and a pinging sound on percussion of the abdomen. The jejunum was obstructed in 10 cattle. Hypochloremic metabolic alkalosis and chronic inflammation were common laboratory findings. All 4 cattle that underwent abdominocentesis had peritonitis. The obstructing trichobezoar was removed surgically in 9 cattle, of which 7 survived and 2 died. The 6 cattle treated medically died or were euthanized.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Obstruction of the small intestine by a trichobezoar is uncommon, but it should be considered as a differential diagnosis in cattle with signs of intestinal obstruction, particularly if they are younger than 4 years of age and have a history of nonacute signs of intestinal obstruction. Surgical removal appears to be a favorable method of treatment and should be considered when this condition is suspected.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Abutarbush's present address is the Department of Health Management, Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4P3, Canada.

Dr. Naylor's present address is the Department of Clinical Sciences, Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, St Kitts, West Indies.

Address correspondence to Dr. Abutarbush.