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Nonsurgical pneumoperitoneum in a dog secondary to blunt force trauma to the chest


  • Stacy L. Simmonds DVM,

    Corresponding author
    • Angell Animal Medical Center, Emergency Critical Care Department, Jamaica Plain, MA
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  • Megan F. Whelan DVM, DACVECC,

  • Jessica Basseches DVM, DACVR

  • The authors declare no conflict of interests.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to

Stacy L. Simmonds, DVM, Center for Veterinary Specialty Care, 1712 West Frankford Rd, Suite 108, Carrollton, TX 75007.




To describe the medical management of pneumoperitoneum without surgical intervention in a dog that sustained blunt force trauma to the thorax. To review the mechanisms of how a thoracic injury (ie, extra-abdominal source) can lead to pneumoperitoneum.

Case Summary

A 4-month-old Shih Tzu puppy was attacked by a larger dog and sustained various injuries including a pneumothorax, pneumomediastinum, and a pneumoperitoneum. The dog presented minimally responsive and in respiratory distress secondary to pulmonary contusions and noncardiogenic pulmonary edema. No penetrating wounds to the abdomen or thorax were identified. As no immediate surgical lesion was identified the dog was treated conservatively without the need for surgical intervention. The dog was successfully managed and discharged after a few days of supportive care with oxygen therapy. Before discharge, repeat radiographs revealed complete resolution of the pneumothorax, pneumomediastinum, and pneumoperitoneum.

New or unique information provided

Cases of nonsurgical pneumoperitoneum have rarely been reported in the veterinary literature. A thoracic source of pneumoperitoneum should be considered when the suspicion of a ruptured viscus is low based on diagnostic procedures (eg, ultrasound, computed tomography, and diagnostic peritoneal lavage), in addition to physical examination (eg, lack of fever and absence of abdominal pain) and laboratory findings (eg, absence of inflammatory leukogram).