Large bowel resection and anastomosis in a domestic rabbit

4 March 2019 – News

After 3 days of anorexia and lethargy, a 3-year-old, male neutered rabbit was diagnosed with rabbit gastrointestinal syndrome (RGS).

Gas accumulation in the small intestines and cecum was confirmed by radiography and the patient was admitted to the hospital. Unfortunately, care and supportive failed to resolve the problem.

Ongoing exams revealed hypothermia, cecum distension (4.25 times the height of the second lumbar vertebrae) and increased borborygmi and gas. These findings suggested cecum or large intestine obstruction so an exploratory laparotomy was performed.

Surgery revealed a dried fibrous ingesta obstruction within the proximal colon and an intestinal adhesion.. The adhesion was dissected with cotton tipped applicators. As the bowel wall was severely compromised, surgeons executed an approximating end to end anastomosis.. After flushing the abdomen with warm sterile saline and replacing the intestines, maropitant was administered into the abdominal cavity to avoid post-operative adhesions.

Ten weeks postoperatively the patient was doing well and no adverse events were reported.

Although the appropriate intestinal diameter on radiographic images has not been established in rabbits, canine guidelines state that intestinal diameter should not exceed the height of the second lumbar vertebral body. The definition of these values for rabbits, together with a study regarding the efficacy and safety of maropitant in these small mammals, would be useful.

Lamb, S. Large bowel resection and anastomosis in a domestic rabbit following obstruction. Journal of Exotic Pet Medicine, Vol 26, Issue 3, July 2017.