Bladder Stone Trouble

Posted in Day-to-day, Medical at 3:36 am by Jenn

I haven’t been updating the blog recently because of a medical crisis in one of my sanctuary piggies, MnemosyneMnemosyne. Mnemie is around 3 years old, and was pulled from a local shelter. When I got back from Fozzie and Kismet’s excellent adoption 2 weeks ago, I went and cleaned all my cages, only to discover that Mnemie had lost weight and was sitting in a puddle of blood.

I got her into our vet the next day, we got x-rays, and it was confirmed that she had bladder stones. Bladder stones can form in the case of a very inappropriate diet which does not have a balanced calcium to phosphorus ratio, has way too much oxalic acid in it, or for no real discernible reason, but seemingly genetically related.

Initially, because of her rather older age, I opted to try and have her pass the stones on her own. The x-rays revealed that she had 2-3 rather smallish stones, and they seemed positioned well to pass. So we went home, with a lot of pain medication, antibiotics, a setup for subcutaneous fluids, and a lot of Pedialyte, and spent a week trying to help her pass them.

At the end of the week, the followup x-rays showed that they hadn’t moved at all, so we opted to try the surgery anyway.

Bladder stone surgery is not easy on pigs, and I was terribly worried. The morning of surgery dawned, and I dropped her off in the early AM with plenty of veggies and lots of good wishes. I received a call at my job at 9am. Dr. Munn had her open, but he couldn’t find her bladder. My initial response, I must admit, was outrage. How could a vet not find an entire organ!? But, he went on to explain, when Mnemie was spayed (at the local shelter) she had formed a intricate knotwork of adhesions. These fibrous bands of scar tissue had basically solidified all of her organs into a giant lump in the middle of her body.

I asked him to try and break them and find her bladder, but gave my blessing to euthanize her on the table if for some reason organs were damaged. It’s extremely common to do so, because adhesions are tough to get around. I fully expected to be burying Mnemie next to poor Ferdinand.

An hour later, I received the call I never expected. He had managed to find her poor bladder by breaking the adhesions as gently as possible. Nothing had been damaged, Mnemie was stitched up and sleeping and they were watching her to see if she woke up.

Mnemosyne's Bladder StonesWhen I arrived to pick her up, the stones they showed me were frightening. Her whole poor bladder had been full of stones. It was very thick walled and irritated (obviously from all the stones), but the inside of the bladder was also deeply crenelated, and all of those crevices had been filled with tiny stones and stalactites of stone. The largest of the stones are pictured here.

Unfortunately, that gives her a less than promising prognosis, since it seems like her bladder is custom-made to sieve off any stone forming materials and collect them in pockets to develop bigger stones.

2 weeks of recovery followed. She was incontinent, and she leaked pee constantly and stayed filthy. She was preferential to veggies, and tended to have loose stools. We did nightly subcue fluids, which she hated and screamed at me for, and I hated because she hated. She stayed mostly on a very low heating pad because she had problems maintaining her body temperature.

And then 2 weeks later, I tried reintroducing her to Hobo and Lethe, her cagemates, because she seemed to be doing much better (although she was still very underweight). Her reintroduction caused massive weight loss within a day, and I can only imagine that she is still not feeling 100% despite her weeks of healing.Mnemie with Hobo and Lethe

But now I am left wondering if I made the right decision. Mnemie is now living by herself, and seems overall to be happy. She begs for vegetables each morning, and seems delighted for new hay every day. But she is still underweight, and can’t live with her friends. She also is still incontinent (which Dr. Munn says may eventually go away — in dogs and cats he’s found it can take 4-6 months for those muscles to redevelop themselves). Because of her incontinence, her poor vulva is almost always irritated from urine. I powder her twice a day to help keep her dry, and change her bedding every other day, but this still remains a problem.

We have made changes to her diet, to try and make it even more balanced (though all of the pigs here in Raleigh have a relatively balanced veggie diet). Lots of water, which is all filtered or bottled, and cranberry juice as treats to help stave off UTIs are now par for the course. She gets her bottom powdered twice a day now, which stings her, and makes her cry.

It is hard for me, as a caregiver of a small animal like this to discern if I have truly made the right choice for this pig. All I know is that 3 weeks after surgery, covered in pee, and with bed sores on her tiny feet, she crawled up to my chest and lay her head next to mine. And then she licked my cheek over and over again for about half an hour. She has never done it before, and she has never done it since. I hope that it is her way of saying that she’s still “in the game” and appreciates the chance.


  1. whognu said,

    September 2, 2008 at 12:31 am

    Those are some huge freaking stones. I had to have a shot of Demerol for a single kidney stone that wasn’t nearly the size of those.

  2. Jenn said,

    September 2, 2008 at 4:45 am

    That’s because I have a macho pig! She is pretty badass about it, though sadly they seem to already be coming back.