Colonic Obstruction Following Ovariohysterectomy in Rabbits: 3 Cases

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Abstract

We evaluated 3 rabbits (8 months to 1.5 years old) for nonspecific clinical signs including hyporexia/anorexia, lethargy, and decreased/absence of fecal output 5 days to 4 months after undergoing ovariohysterectomy (OHE) procedures. Each external physical examination performed on the rabbits revealed decreased gastrointestinal sounds, abdominal pain on palpation, and a caudal abdominal mass. Complete blood counts and biochemical analyses from the rabbits on presentation were within reference values. Abdominal radiographic findings included gas distension of the intestines along with multiple other distended, ingesta-filled loops. Abdominal ultrasonography was performed on all 3 rabbits, and abnormalities included that the colon tapered abruptly at the level of the uterine stump, a mass was seen around the caudal colon, and that the colon was distended. Positive contrast colonograms were performed in 2 of the rabbits. All 3 rabbits initially responded to medical management; however, after a recurrence of abnormal clinical signs, an exploratory laparotomy was performed on each animal. Of the rabbits, 2 had adhesions from the transected uterine body to the small intestine mesentery, resulting in circumferential stenoses. The 2 rabbits with intestinal stenosis were euthanized intraoperatively owing to the poor prognosis for resection and anastomosis of the colon. In one of the rabbits, sutures placed around the uterine stump during the OHE procedure had inadvertently penetrated the colon; the affected area of the colon was resected but the patient died during the postoperative period. Colonic obstruction following OHE is rare for any species, yet 3 cases of this disease presentation in domestic rabbits are presented in this report. In rabbits, clinical signs might mimic functional ileus; therefore, results of additional testing, including abdominal ultrasonography and a radiographic contrast study, are necessary to obtain a definitive diagnosis. Early surgical exploration and correction of the adhesions before irreversible colonic damage is recommended in suspected cases.

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