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Gastrointestinal Resection and Anastomosis in Cats

By: Dr. David Diamond

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Diagnosis

  • Resection and anastomosis is a technique that is usually determined to be necessary only after the surgeon has had an opportunity to assess the extent and nature of the disease process affecting the gastrointestinal tract. That assessment is usually based on direct visualization and palpation of the affected tissues during an exploratory surgery. Tumors of the rectum may be assessed before surgery with digital rectal examination.

  • Tests performed before surgery may suggest that a resection and anastomosis will be needed, and may help in determining that exploratory surgery should be performed. Complete physical examination is extremely important in any patient with symptoms related to the gastrointestinal tract (vomiting, diarrhea, poor appetite, weight loss). Thorough palpation of your pet's abdomen by your veterinarian may reveal fluid build-up in the abdominal cavity, pain, or tumors.

  • Radiographs (X-rays) of the chest and abdomen may reveal a foreign object within the gastrointestinal tract and may show fluid or gas in the chest or abdomen. Occasionally, your cat is fed a contrast material that helps to outline the gastrointestinal tract before additional radiographs are taken. This can help to define strictures, intussusceptions, tumors and foreign objects.

  • Ultrasound examination is a useful tool for non-invasively examining the abdominal organs. It is also helpful in retrieving samples of fluid from the abdominal cavity (abdominocentesis) when only a small amount may be present, and in diagnosing intussusception.

  • The fluid obtained by abdominocentesis is examined under the microscope to look for the presence of bacteria or food material that would indicate that a perforation of the gastrointestinal tract has occurred.

    Treatment In-depth

  • 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 use of stapling equipment can greatly reduce the surgery and anesthesia time, but it may increase the cost.

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

  • Culture of the fluid from the abdominal cavity may be performed to determine an appropriate antibiotic to treat peritonitis.

  • Your cat is usually kept in the hospital for 1 to 2 days after surgery in order to continue intravenous fluid therapy and to allow antibiotics and pain medications (analgesics) to be administered. Your cat will be closely monitored during this time for evidence of infection or other complications.

  • Food and water may be withheld from your cat for the first 12 to 24 hours after surgery. If your cat does not vomit after drinking small volumes of water, small amounts of a bland diet can be offered. Once your pet is eating and drinking without vomiting, he may be discharged from the hospital.

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