Interesting case – a ball lodged in pharynx

A colleague in Albuquerque working in an emergency centre solved this great case overnight. This doggy presented with mild respiratory distress; but was otherwise ok. A radiograph revealed his favourite ball lodged in his pharynx. It’s slightly smaller than a tennis ball; and perfectly shaped to lodge in his throat.

The quick thinking team gave him a light anaesthetic and pulled it out.

A foreign body lodged in the airway can choke an animal. It is possible to perform abdominal thrusts on dogs; but that doesn’t always work. Putting fingers in the mouth of a distressed animal is not recommended; indeed people have lost fingers in this way. In a collapsed unconscious animal; I have heard of an owner using a wine opener to drive a corkscrew into a ball and pull it out.

A safer technique is to place the animal in its back, stretch out the neck; and make a diamond shape with the hands to stroke the object out of the pharynx. You can see a demonstration on a dummy animal the pictures.

It’s always best to get to your vet for treatment. Sometimes a ball can travel further into the oesophagus and we need to use endoscopy to get them out.

Be careful when choosing balls for your pets. Ones smaller than tennis balls tend to be risky; especially if squishy. They can lodge further down the oesophagus or even end up lodged in the stomach. Sometimes they can sit there for years causing intermittent symptoms!!

Thanks to Lorena Gomez for the super photos!

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