Cats are known to ingest foreign bodies, likely not to the degree that dogs will, yet enough to be of concern to their owners. One of the most common types of foreign bodies is a sewing needle. This study is a retrospective case series evaluating the clinical signs, diagnostic test results, foreign body location, treatment and outcome for cats (and dogs) with sewing needle foreign bodies. 38 cats were examined during the 12-year time frame because of sewing needle foreign body ingestion.
In approximately half of the cats, the sewing needle was identified in the upper gastrointestinal tract (esophagus and stomach). 30% of the cases had the sewing needle location in the oropharyngeal region (oral cavity and pharynx) with 19% of the remaining cases were primarily in the lower gastrointestinal tract or in an extra gastrointestinal location. Almost all were domestic shorthair cats and young, with a median age of 1.5 years. Cats with the sewing needle located in the upper GI region were more commonly lethargic and anorexic while those with the needle located in the oropharyngeal region had anorexia, retching, and cervical swelling. Cats with the sewing needle located in the lower GI tract did not appear to have distinguishing abnormalities. Gastrointestinal perforation occurred in 5 of 37 cats. Sewing needles located in the oropharynx were removed while the cat was under sedation or anesthesia, needles located in the esophagus or stomach were successfully removed in 18 of 19 cats. Thread was attached to the sewing needle in 24 of 33 cats.
The results indicate when a cat ingests a sewing needle foreign body and receives definite treatment; the cat has an excellent prognosis for an outcome. (VLT)