Major operation for Ambaa

Posted on Saturday 19th December 2009 @ 05:56 pm

Almost a year since Ambaa nearly died of cold she suddenly became poorly again. Over the last few weeks Ambaa has been eating less and less and pooing less and less too. In the last few days the only thing she would eat was live mealworms. She stopped being interested in anything else and had stopped eating any fruit, nuts or veggies. She also started licking every surface she could find; skirting, walls, carpets and especially radiator valves! Also her poos had become very small, dry and dark. She was still weeing but again only small amounts. She also had a bloated tummy, not surprising as she was not passing much. Her tummy feels quite normal. It wasn’t tight or stretched and there didn’t appear to be any lumps or masses in it. She didn’t appear to be in any pain. She was still bright eyed and active and she ran and climbed about, when Jaali lets her! as normal.

In case it was just the winter blues the heating and humidity in her house were increased. She seems to enjoy this but it didn’t make her start eating again.

As she wasn’t improving she had to go the the vet and after an initial examination the vet was very concerned and said that he didn’t think there would be a positive outcome. He detected a lot of fluid in Ambaa’s tummy and though it was either liver problems, heart problems or a tumour. 

Ambaa’ was booked in the very next day for a range of x-rays and other tests. The plan was to x-ray her and do a blood test and an ECG. Then drain the fluid and do another x-ray to compare before and after.

The tests threw up a few surprises and by 11:30 permission was given to open her up to examine her gut. The operation was only supposed to last about 45 minutes but in the end lasted three hours as Ambaa required some really complicated surgery. Thankfully she survived this but the post operative period is a high risk time, especially after such a long operation.

The tests

The blood tests, which were done first, didn’t show any abnormalities other than that she hadn’t been getting proper nourishment from her food for a while. Most importantly they didn’t show any indication of liver problems. The suspected fluid on her abdomen turned out to be mostly gas and only a little fluid. This indicated that the heart was probably OK too and the ECG confirmed this. With the gas and the fluid drained the vet could get a clear x-ray of Ambaa’s abdomen this didn’t show an obvious problem but there was a suggestion of a problem and the vet was able to feel a lump once he know where to look.

An incredible operation

The only way to investigate further was to open Ambaa up. The vet found that a section of the upper intestine had folded round on itself and fused causing a complete blockage. Ambaa’s stomach was full of food and hugely distended but the muscle still looked healthy but the section of intestine above the blockage was 10 times the normal diameter. The vet could easily remove the fused section but there was no way that he could join the two ends together because of the damage to the upper section. What he did was to sew up the two ends and make a new opening in the side of the stomach and a new opening in the side of the healthy upper intestine and join the two together to make a new exit from the stomach to the upper intestine. Once the reconstruction was complete they were able to observe that food was passing from the stomach to the upper intestine via the new opening and nothing was leaking.


The recovery


However surviving the surgery is one thing but there is still a long way to go. Ambaa took a long time to recover from the anaesthetic and was on oxygen for a while. The vet has warned that there’s no guarantee that the reconstruction will hold up and there’s also the risk that the problem could reoccur. The vet did check the rest of her gut out and everything else looked completely normal. The bit they’ve removed is going off to histology to see if we can find out what caused it to fuse.

24 hours on from the operation and Ambaa is back at home. Still groggy, very sore and, so far, not eating or drinking properly. She has eaten a very few things and been force fed her pain killers and antibiotic. She’s also passed a small sticky poo.

The vet is hoping that she’ll be eating and pooing normally in the next 24 hours.

Posted by Pouched Rats on Saturday 19th December 2009 @ 05:56 pm
Posted in the Medical category



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