Foreign Bodies in Esophagus

Nearly every pet owner has witnessed their pet chewing on something they aren’t supposed to. Oftentimes, these objects end up being swallowed. Such swallowed foreign bodies tend to get stuck in the body, and the first place they can get lodged is within the esophagus. Bones or string are the most common objects that gets caught; other common items include sewing needles, socks, fishhooks, rawhide, and wood. Regardless of what object your pet swallows, promptly removing it before it causes further damage should be a primary concern.

Symptoms of a foreign body in esophagus: 

  • Anorexia. 
  • Difficulty breathing. 
  • Excessive drooling. 
  • Gagging. 
  • Lethargy. 
  • Loss of appetite. 
  • Repeatedly trying to swallow. 
  • Spitting up. 
  • Weight loss. 
  • Pawing at the mouth.

Identifying foreign bodies

When a pet owner brings in their animal either having witnessed them swallowing an article, or suspecting them having swallowed an object, most foreign bodies can be detected with an X-ray. If the item swallowed was translucent, a contrast esophagoscopy will need to be performed in order to detect the item and where it is located. This test utilizes biocompatible dyes to make transparent articles better visible in imaging.

How are foreign elements removed from the esophagus?

Once foreign objects have been positively identified, they should be removed promptly. The outlook for foreign object removal is very good, and most pets do very well. Depending on the precise location of the item, the veterinarian will advise you on the different methods of removal, and you can decide which method is best for your pet. Some objects can be removed with induced vomiting; others can be extracted with an endoscope and forceps. If the object has moved further down the esophagus, it can be pushed into the stomach with the endoscope where it will be digested and passed.

In some cases, surgery is necessary, and the object will be pushed into the stomach so it can be surgically removed via gastrotomy. Gastrotomy is a safe surgical incision that enables the veterinarian to examine the contents of the stomach and remove the foreign object without disturbing surrounding organs. If the article has punctured the esophagus, immediate surgery becomes critical. The article cannot be moved and surgery must be performed in the location of the object.

If you have observed your pet swallowing foreign items or they are exhibiting any suspicious symptoms, we strongly advise you to contact our office, and schedule an exam.


Read what people are saying about us.

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We took our 5 month old puppy in to get neutered today and had a great experience. They educate you on expenses without making you feel guilty if you decide against extra options. We were able to pick him up 5 hours after dropping him off which was also amazing. Would highly recommend to anyone looking for a vet.

Chelsea G.'s

Dr. Genova has been my 4 legged daughter's doctor for her whole life (10 years). He is very personable, informative and kind. I seriously cannot say enough positive things about him.. Why else would I trust him to take care of my baby girl?

The rest of the staff is also very kind. Most of them have changed throughout the years but one thing that hasn't is that you can immediately tell how much they all love animals.

This is definitely one of this places that I wish I could give more than 5 stars to.

John L.

We had our first experience at Village at Main Veterinary Hospital today and I couldn't wait to write a review because of how pleased I was with the entire staff and environment. I arrived way early for my appointment but they took me anyway since it was open with no problem at all. As soon as we walked in the door my puppy and I were greeted with smiles and even staff that didn't run the counter came out and greeted and loved on my puppy as well which really put her at ease. Every staff member acknowledged our presence at some point. We were taken back to an exam room and we saw Dr. Tran who was warm and loving toward my puppy, she really took her time and you could easily see that she loves what she does. Dr. Tran covered all of my questions I had planned to ask as well as asked if I had any others. I would highly recommend this clinic to anybody who has had a bad experience at another clinic because it will totally make up for it as it did in our case. Thank you so much again for making us feel right at home and loving what you guys do, I will continue to drive 30 minutes just to have my pooch continue to see you guys :)

Tiffany B.

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