A Foxtail Tale With a Happy Ending

Ice Bear Fashionably Recovering

You may recall a blog post from last month regarding foxtails, one of summer’s most common veterinary snafus. We recently had a peculiar case in which a foxtail ended up in a very unlikely place. Dr. Nurre recounts the tale of Ice Bear’s illness and recovery (warning, some of the pictures are graphic):

“We recently had a cat, Ice Bear, referred to our hospital with a week long history of not wanting to eat , slight cough, and being very lethargic.  His signs were vague and could have been caused by many different underlying medical conditions.  The referring veterinarian had done bloodwork and taken radiographs of the Ice Bear’s entire body.  There was a subtle abnormality seen radiographically in one of the cat’s lung lobes.

After I examined Ice Bear it was apparent that he was feeling very sick.  I recommended using ultrasound to visualize Ice Bear’s internal organs.  The owner consented.  First, we ultrasounded Ice Bear’s abdomen which looked normal.  Then we ultrasounded his chest.  Ultrasound evaluation of his heart looked normal.  No leaky heart valves, contractility [the ability of the heart to contract] appeared normal, and no evidence of heart chamber enlargement.

Around the heart and lungs I could see a large amount of fluid which was very abnormal.
Using ultrasound guidance I passed a needle into his chest (careful not to hit his heart or lungs) and extracted some of this fluid.  The fluid analysis confirmed it was pus.  Then the question was what caused the pus to build up in the chest?  With ultrasound I could see in the left caudal  lung lobe an unusual structure that resembled a foxtail.

The red arrow on the ultrasound image indicates the location of the foxtails within the lung

I discussed with the owner that if this was a foxtail we would need to remove it to give Ice Bear a chance to survive.  The surgery was risky, but our board-certified surgeon, Dr. Carl Koehler, did a great job.  He successfully removed the 2 foxtails and lung lobe, because it was so diseased, and flushed the pus from the chest.  Ice bear recovered well and went home  the following day eating and acting quite normal. ”

The Foxtails Embedded in the Lung

The Troublesome Pair of Foxtails Following Removal

Congratulations to Ice Bear on a successful recovery! If you suspect that your pet has inhaled a foxtail, or if you notice swollen lumps or bumps on your pet that popped up quickly, call us 24 hours a day at (925)937-5000.