Eight years ago, Ash was languishing in Battersea Dogs Home with a very uncertain future. Luckily for her, Mr & Mrs Ives were looking for a dog and took her on. She settled in well, and since then has been very happy in her rescue home and generally in very good health.
In April last year, Ash was brought to see our vet Duncan because of a vaginal discharge. She had been spayed when she was in Battersea, so Duncan knew Ash could not be in season. He suspected the discharge indicated infection somewhere in the reproductive or urinary systems and so he prescribed antibiotics. Ash responded well to the treatment and the discharge soon dried up.
However, in September this year the discharge returned. This time she was examined by our Clinical Director Andrew and more antibiotics were dispensed. Again, she responded quickly but this time the discharge returned just a few days after the pills finished. Andrew and Duncan discussed the case and realised this confirmed the presence of a more deep-seated infection and therefore recommended further investigation by exploratory surgery. Mr & Mrs Ives agreed to go ahead.
Duncan performed the surgery and began with an incision into Ash’s abdomen before thoroughly examining her whole abdomen. Her bladder and kidneys appeared normal so urinary tract infections could be ruled out, but the remnant of her reproductive tract was very swollen and inflamed.
When a bitch is spayed, both ovaries and the uterus (womb) are removed in a procedure known as an ovario-hysterectomy. As well as preventing further seasons, this procedure also prevents the dog developing endometritis and pyometra – inflammation, then infection of the lining of the womb resulting in a pus-filled uterus. This is very serious and emergency surgery is often needed to save the dog’s life.
In Ash’s case, a small part (stump) of the womb had been left behind when she was spayed. Normally this never causes any problems. However, on rare occasions this stump can develop endometritis and then infection, becoming a ‘stump pyometra’. This is a very rare condition and the first time either Andrew or Duncan had seen a case. Luckily, the extent of the infection is limited by the small size of the stump and symptoms are mild. Surgery needs to be very careful and precise to avoid spillage of infection into the abdomen and Duncan was able to do this successfully.
Ash made a good recovery from the surgery and is now completely back to her normal happy self.
Look away if you're squeamish! Here's a photo of the "stump" in question: