1474. Judgment Day - An
unusual closed pyometra in a Jack Russell
Monday June 24, 2013 6pm
"It is up to
the vet to decide when to operate," I had seen the X-rays of this small-built
7-year-old female Jack Russell X who could be a cross with a Chihuahua as this
was a popular breed with local breeders. "I usually give the dog an IV drip plus
antibiotics to stabilise the dog and operate 24 hours later. Waiting another day
may lead to the dog being toxic as there is a lot of pus and bacteria inside the
swollen uterus of pyometra."
Dr Daniel had palpated the Jack Russell
yesterday, Sunday. She had a painful abdomen and had been on heat 2-3 weeks ago.
She could pee normally. Today, her rectal temperature was 37.6 deg C. "It is
more important that she be operated to remove her swollen womb today," I
advised. "If the womb ruptures overnight, she will be dead tomorrow. The X-rays
showed the swollen uterine bodies. There is no need to wait for the complete
blood test results."
I put the dog on the table and palpated a large
swollen mass in the mid-abdomen. The dog did not cry in pain but was
uncomfortable. "It felt like a big swollen bladder or stomach," I said. "But it
could be the swollen uterus."
"The dog can pee with no problem," my
assistant Nia said. "No blood in the urine." So, it would likely be closed
pyometra rather than a gastric dilatation (stomach swollen with gas). Dr Daniel
decided to operate.
I could see a large distended uterus stretching from
the lower chest to the pelvic area. This was unusually long and large in a
small-bodied Jack Russell X. "Make a longer incision forward to the sternum," I
could see that Dr Daniel could not fish it out.
"It is a swollen
stomach," Dr Daniel said after fishing out the hemispheric swollen organ.
Certainly it has the structure of a stomach full of gas or fluid with a greater
curvature seen initially. As Dr Daniel extricated more of the organ, there were
the continuation to the left uterine body which had 10 times smaller lumps. So
this was closed pyometra confirmed.
This was an abnormal presentation as usually all uterine bodies would be
filled with pus and be of similar sizes in many closed pyometra cases. Here,
there were only two gigantic swellings of part of the left uterine body, as if
both ends of the lobules were cut off, resulting in two portions grossly
distended and about to rupture.
"Use the triple forceps method," I
advised Dr Daniel. Each vet has his or her own method. "No need to ligate the
omental fat separated from the uterine side but just clamp and cut. Surgery has
to be quick in case the dog dies. For the uterus, ligate two parts so that if
one ligature slips, there is another one."
The dog was recovering when
the mother and her two adult children came to visit at 7 pm. She looked dazed.
"Why is her tongue sticking out? Will it be permanent?" the daughter asked me as
Dr Daniel was busy clipping the long claws of a recumbent 18-year-old cat
brought in by an adult son and his mother. It was his mother's cat.
tongue sticking out is due to anaesthesia," I said. "The tongue will be in when
the dog is awake." The dog's eyes were open wider as the owners stayed for
another 20 minutes. But she could not stand. An Antisedan injection would
reverse the Domitor given earlier and waken up the dog. But as each vet has his
or her own ideas, I did not insist.
The dog would likely recover
after the operation on Judgment Day. If there was a delay, she might be dead.
Evidence-based medicine is important in the diagnosis of closed pyometra as
owners want to know for sure. In the old days, I would have got a history of the
dog being on heat, passing out "blood with mucus", palpated a painful abdomen
and advised spaying. This would save the dog's life and the owners some medical
expenses. But nowadays, evidence-based medicine is important as owners are most
sophisticated and likely to sue.
UPDATE ON JUN 25, 2013 7.30
PM The family of a mother and 4 adult children came to visit the
7-year-old Jack Russell X on Day 2 after surgery. The dog was wagging her tail
and this indicated good post-operation recovery. "I didn't bring the carrier,"
the mother said. "Go home tomorrow."
"I will give you a box," I usually
don't keep the dog warded for more than one day unless necessary to reduce
medical costs for the owner. "The dog is OK to go home." One young man cradled
the dog in his hands and the whole family went home happily. This was a dog
with low platelet counts as evidenced by the blood test. So, she could die on
the operating table by bleeding to death. There was a delay in seeking
veterinary treatment for around one week of seeing bloody clots passed out from
A happy ending is always good for all parties if the vet can
deliver a dog alive at the end of surgery. "It will be much much cheaper to spay
the female dog when she is younger," I said to the daughter. The costs of blood
test, X-rays, longer anaesthesia and longer surgery totalled around $1,300 which
is considered inexpensive for the time taken to perform the closed pyometra
surgery. This was much more than a spay of a normal dog.
family members and since we don't sterilise people, why sterilise the family
I took a video and some images of the challenges diseases
present to sharpen the diagnostic skills of the veterinary surgeon. Updates will be on this