Gypsy is a 5 year old female spayed Lab mix canine who presented with a history of an increased frequency of urination (polakiuria). A normally well housetrained dog, Gypsy recently had some urinary accidents in the house which made her owners concerned. The only significant change in her behavior was that Gypsy woke her owners up an hour or so early in the morning to be walked.
On physical exam, Gypsy was an excited, happy, healthy looking dog. A urine analysis was performed, which showed multiple crystals in Gypsy’s urine. Gypsy’s owners agreed to schedule radiographs of her bladder, which were subsequently taken.
These X Ray images show a very irregular, prominent urinary bladder with multiple oval to round shaped opacities of various sizes completely filling the bladder. Based on this abnormal appearance, an abdominal ultrasound was recommended, to confirm the presence of bladder stones and to assess Gypsy’s overall health. The ultrasound image confirmed that the densities seen on radiographs were in fact bladder stones.
Because of the large number of stones present, surgery was recommended as the only viable option to remove the stones. After consulting with Gypsy’s owners, bladder surgery was scheduled and then performed several days later.
Surgery to remove urinary bladder stones involves first opening up the abdomen (celiotomy), followed by cutting open the bladder (cystotomy). Care has to be taken to prevent urine from leaking into the abdomen when the bladder is opened up. Below are a pictures taken during surgery of the incredible number of stones found inside Gypsy’s bladder!!
The most common clinical signs of bladder stones in dogs and cats are bloody urine (hematuria), and dysuria (straining to urinate). These signs occur because the stones rub against the bladder wall, causing irritation and bleeding. If the stones flow into the urethra, they may get stuck and cause an obstruction. If urine flow is completely prevented, a life threatening condition ensues. This is actually not uncommon in male dogs and cats with stones, as their urethras are more narrow than in females. Gypsy’s female anatomy certainly helped her to avoid such a situation. Never the less it was just amazing that the only real complaint was that she was waking her owners up for a walk an hour early!
Bladder stones form when various crystalline compounds are in an elevated concentration in the urine. These crystals stick together using mucous as a glue, forming clusters that gradually enlarge and harden into stones. Various factors are at play here. Often the individual’s own metabolism results in a ph that promotes crystal formation. Bacterial infections cause certain stones to form. Diet also plays an important role, and can be used to help prevent future stone formation.