Success Story of Dakota Wills

“One man’s junk is another’s treasure”


Dakota a 10 month old miniature poodle was presented by her owners because they were concerned that she may have eaten a small rubber ball. The owners were watching her play with her new multicolored high bouncing rubber ball when it suddenly disappeared and assumed that she must have swallowed it. Although she was having no difficulty at the time, we examined Dakota and took an x-ray which confirmed the owner’s suspicion. The missing ball was revealed on her x-ray to be within her stomach. It was clear that Dakota was not going to be able to pass the ball with an intestinal obstruction being the likely outcome. The only solution was to remove the ball, BEFORE it became a larger problem.  The conventional method of removing the ball would have required surgery; an incision through the body wall then another into the stomach, followed by careful closure to ensure no contamination of stomach contents into the abdomen or incision site occurred. Postoperative complications can occur including pain, infection, delayed wound healing or breakdown of the incision. Alternatively a non-invasive method ideally could be performed using a video endoscope. This method uses a flexible scope carrying a camera and a high intensity light which can navigate down the mouth, esophagus and into the stomach where forceps can be delivered through it’s working channel to remove foreign objects from its contents. The problem is that the ball is too large and round making grasping extremely difficult even with a wire basket which is designed for this type of foreign body retrieval.  Although we had the technology available we still needed to become “creative” to accomplish the task at hand. We needed to fabricate then introduce into the stomach a “fishing” net large enough to allow a 1 inch ball to be scooped into its opening which could then be gently pulled through the delicate lining of the stomach and esophagus.  With the use of a Trojan® latex condom, provided by one of our ever ready licensed veterinary technicians, we were able to successfully and atraumatically capture the ball within the condom’s chamber and deliver the ball from Willow’s stomach without any invasive surgical intervention. Willow recovered from anesthesia uneventfully and returned home to his family that same day. Everyone was truly excited to be able to avoid a major surgical procedure and employ a non-invasive approach to solving Willow’s problem.


Here’s what the Will family had to say about their experience:

We are so grateful to your entire staff for their innovative and tender care of North Dakota.

Thank you –
The Wills Family

Dear Friends,

Well, as you have all heard by now, North Dakota swallowed a superball last evening!
He is home recovering comfortably from laparoscopic surgery. We originally presumed that he would need invasive surgery to remove the ball from his stomach but, thanks to the quick thinking of Dr. Gittelman, it was successfully taken out with the aid of a condom!! Doctors have used surgical gloves tied to the end of a laparoscope to remove objects from animals’ stomachs before. However, N. Dakota is too small to fish a glove down his throat. Debating about whether to try cutting a finger off a glove, half joking, the doctor thought of a condom. (It is narrow and already lubricated!) The idea worked like a charm. Dakota’s stomach was completely empty, with the exception of the ball, and it scooped up easily into the receptacle. When I arrived at the office to retrieve Dakota, I found him to be quite popular, today. Everyone apparently witnessed the procedure and were excited that the doctor had saved such an adorable little patient from invasive surgery!
I am very grateful to the staff of Animal Medical of New City, especially Dr. Gittelman’s quick thinking and Danielle’s preparedness!