Coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous – Albert Einstein
Quote from Einstein’s essay The World As I See It

I work in an emergency practice and things come in fits and starts. If I see a blocked cat on the first day of my week, I know I’ll see at least two more by the end. Then I might not see any more for a couple of months. It’s weird like that when you consider the catchment area of the practice. That said, most nights have the same “rhythm” and when nights follow the rhythm it’s good for predicting when we’ll be able to do surgery.

One week I saw four gastric dilations, with volvulus, in one day – and the weird thing was they descended in size and probability through the day: the first was in a great Dane, the next in a setter, then a cavalier (I kid you not; x-rays proved it) and then – I couldn’t believe it – in the evening, a dachshund was all swollen, hard and retching… but no x-ray forthcoming for that one, euthanasia elected.

That day, and the cases, should really have been written up as a short communication, because I find it all hard to believe as well.

Not too long after that I had a week where I saw four GDVs in more “typical” breeds throughout the course of one week. All of them went to surgery and, by the fourth on the Friday morning, we had a good routine going – the dog came in at 0600h, and we were operating at something like 0700h. The day vets are due in at 0830h.

Having already done three earlier in the week, everything just went brilliantly – the stomach derotated with little effort, and the incisional gastropexy was apposed without much problem. Indeed, we timed it as 20 minutes from cutting to being ready for closing.

So… with the time approaching 0730h, what I should have done was close the dog up and count my lucky stars I’d be going home on time despite what “fate” had thrown my way at the last minute.

But no…

 Background image (x-ray of GDV in a German shepherd) by Joel Mills [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Just the previous week I’d been talking on an e-mail discussion group about whether we should do “exploratories” on all animals we open up, whether it be for neutering or other purposes (I was playing Devil’s advocate and pushing it to see where the discussion went). So in this case, because it had all been so quick, I decided I’d have a quick look around.

Liver, kidneys and spleen were all OK, but the intestines had a two-inch-long thickening about the level of the jejuno-ileal junction, which extended into the mesentery – so the nurse phoned the owners while I got ready to take a biopsy.

The report form the biopsy was lymphoma. I communicated this to the dog’s regular practice and, I have to admit, forgot about the case until a few months later when I received a lovely card from the owners thanking me for doing that exploratory. They had decided not to pursue chemotherapy, instead opting to “spoil our little boy as much as possible for as long as possible” – which still brings a lump to my throat!

I am just writing up a remarkable case; I don’t do exploratories as standard and am not suggesting anyone starts. It was just a conjunction of coincidences and good luck that the surgery took an incredibly short time due to having a cluster of them and I had been discussing the very topic a few days before this and had the time to “have a quick look around”.

View your activity >

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of


related content

Laura Cole and Dominic Barfield discuss diagnosis and emergency management of hypoglycaemia in dogs, including two case examples.

27 mins

 James Barnett reports on this year’s gathering of marine mammal scientists and vets, which was held on the Portuguese island, with research details by some of the attendees.

52 mins

Isabel Manning advises on approaching a poultry consultation in practice, to help get the most out of the process.

27 mins

A Glasgow vet will be recognised with a special award from the International Fund for Animal Welfare at the House of Lords, honouring her work to help homeless people and their dogs.

4 mins

Karen Perry discusses medical, nutritional and environmental treatment options for this orthopaedic condition.

48 mins

Simone Anesi discusses the case of a male neutered domestic shorthair cat that presented with a seven-day history of lethargy and tachypnoea, in the latest of Case Notes column.

7 mins