Sherman is an adorable six-year-old Boxer mix that was adopted from Southern Comfort Rescue, which is located outside of Houston, TX. He seemed like an adorable puppy from his web photos and fit the bill for his family. When they inquired about his adoption, the owner of the rescue told them that he and his brother were a bonded pair, and that she really couldn’t imagine separating them. So, at 16 weeks old, they ended up adopting and flying both Sherman and his brother, Tyrion (T for short) to their new forever home.  His family has never regretted the decision and could not imagine them apart.

In January 2023, Sherman presented to our emergency department for lethargy and vomiting after eating and drinking that began a couple days prior. His owners tried to give him a bland diet and ice chips, but he would vomit within two to three minutes after eating it. Since Sherman has a history of a sensitive stomach, they didn’t know what was going on. They noted that he ate a large hickory smoked kneecap beef bone around the same time his symptoms started, but his brother, Tyrion, ate the same beef bone and was fine.

Sherman on couch
Sherman on couch
Our emergency team preformed radiographs, which revealed a round bone esophageal foreign body about 7cm long, just before his diaphragm. We updated his family on the radiographic findings and need for an upper GI endoscopy, with the caveat that if we were unable to remove it this way, we would need to pursue surgery.

Dr. Spry, one of our internal medicine doctors, attempted to remove the bone endoscopically, but she was unsuccessful. His care was transferred to Dr. Andersen, one of our surgeons, to remove the bone piece. Initially an attempt to remove the bone was made via the entrance into his stomach (gastrotomy), but this was unsuccessful, so Sherman underwent chest surgery (thoracotomy). After they removed the bone, his esophagus was visualized and noted to be necrotic as well as perforated. A procedure called an esophageal resection and anastomosis (R&A) was preformed where the necrotic regions of his esophagus were resected, and the healthy esophagus was connected together (anastomosed). A chest tube was then placed and he was started on broad-spectrum antibiotics. A feeding tube (nasogastric tube) was also placed into the stomach to provide oral liquid mediations and to feed him during initial healing of the esophagus.

Approximately 5cm of Sherman’s esophagus was removed, and with such a risky procedure, several complications could arise including dehiscence, delayed healing due to tissue trauma, and potential for esophageal stricture and motility issues. Despite the risks involved, Sherman recovered well and after eight days total in our hospital, was able to go home to his family!
They reported that less than two weeks out, Sherman wants to bound around the house like nothing ever happened. While he’s still got a way to go, it looks as good as it could at this stage of the journey and they are grateful for the outstanding care he received at the Animal Medical Center of Seattle. We’re hopeful that he will soon be back to his position as “defender of the realm”, keeping his family safe from squirrels and chasing his brother around the yard.

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