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"Gizmo" - Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier with Infected Anal Glands
Photo: Gizmo

A rectal examination is a unpleasant experience for all concerned. It is probably why that particular procedure never seems to feature on television despite the frequency that it occurs routinely in daily veterinary life! Work experience students soon realise that life as a vet is not quite as glamorous as they first thought!

Gizmo, a soft coated wheaten terrier, was originally presented because his owners had noticed that he appeared to be uncomfortable when trying to pass motions. A rectal examination is clearly essential in these cases to try and establish a cause.

I was very concerned at the extreme pain that Gizmo was experiencing and the very abnormal appearance of the regional anatomy which was both badly swollen and very roughened. Cancer was definitely in the frame and Gizmo was scheduled for a surgical biopsy after a period of antibiotics and anti-inflammatories.

Fortunately, the pathologist was able to report that no cancer was evident and that the symptoms were due to a combination of infection, abscess and fibrous adhesions.

Several months of medication helped to control the symptoms but were unsuccessful at clearing the infection completely. Residual pockets of infection remained in the anal (scent) glands and it was clear that the only way to cure Gizmo was to surgically remove the anal glands to finally resolve the infection.

Gizmo's owners were obviously very concerned at the prospect of surgery especially when there were no guarantees of complete success. The pros and cons have to be considered with the potential for significant improvement a realistic aim. With the possibility of permanent rectal strictures having disastrous consequences for Gizmo, surgery had a more attractive prospect.

Fortunately, for both Gizmo and his owner, several months later surgery has been a complete success and he is now completely pain free - although after months of probing examinations I am sure I can still see his eyes water when ever he enters my consulting room!


Terry Dunne BVMS, Cert SAO, MRCVS

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