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Gastrointestinal Resection and Anastomosis in Cats

By: Dr. David Diamond

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Gastrointestinal resection and anastomosis is a surgical procedure in which a section of the esophagus, stomach and/or intestinal tract is removed and the remaining parts are connected. This procedure may be performed at any point along the gastrointestinal tract from the esophagus to rectum, and the section removed can vary in length from a few centimeters to very long lengths.

Reasons for doing this procedure include:

  • Foreign body such as ingested toys or string or other obstruction

  • Perforation of the intestine

  • Intussusception in which one piece of intestine becomes incorporated in an adjacent segment

  • Torsion or twisting of the stomach or intestines

  • Neoplasia (cancer)

    Animals with these problems may display gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting, decreased appetite, weight loss, and/or diarrhea.

    Resection and anastomosis is a commonly performed procedure. The success rate is relatively high, but depends on the underlying disease process and region of the gastrointestinal tract that is removed. The surgery can have serious complications if the affected animal does not heal well and the anastomosis comes apart or if a large majority of the intestinal tract is removed.

    Diagnosis

  • In general, the decision to perform a resection and anastomosis of the gastrointestinal tract is made by the surgeon during exploratory surgery.

  • Special tests may be necessary to help determine whether surgery is necessary or not. Such tests include radiographs (with and without contrast material), abdominal ultrasonography, and abdominocentesis, or the removal of a sample of fluid from the abdominal cavity with a needle.

    Treatment

  • Gastrointestinal resection and anastomosis can be performed by hand suturing the two ends of the gastrointestinal tract back together or specialized stapling equipment can be used.

  • The removed portion of the gastrointestinal tract is often submitted to a laboratory for histopathological examination (biopsy).

    Home Care

    Your cat will often be kept in the hospital for a few days for continued treatment and monitoring after a gastrointestinal resection and anastomosis has been performed. Once your cat is discharged from the hospital you will need to restrict his/her activity for several weeks. You will also need to monitor the skin incision for redness, swelling, or discharge.

    Your cat may be sent home on a diet restricted in either volume or type of food fed and/or medications. Your veterinarian will typically ask you to return for a recheck appointment in two weeks so that he/she can monitor your cat's progress and remove the skin sutures.

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