Diagnostic challenges and treatment options of a suspected pericardial metallic projectile foreign body in a dog


  • Joshua M. Elliott MA, DVM, DACVIM,

    Corresponding author
    • From the Department of Small Animal Surgery, University of California-Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, Davis, CA
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  • Philipp D. Mayhew BVM&S, DACVS, MRCVS

  • The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to

Dr. Joshua M. Elliott, Columbia River Veterinary Specialists, 6818 NE 4th Plain Blvd, Vancouver, WA 98661.

Email: jmelliott74@yahoo.com



To describe a case of a suspected pericardial metallic projectile foreign body in a dog with a history of trauma to the left shoulder and to review the literature regarding the management of cardiac and intracardiac foreign bodies.

Case Summary

A 3-year-old male, neutered Brittany spaniel presented with a 10-day history of decreased activity and partial anorexia. Serial thoracic radiographs identified a migrating pericardial metallic projectile foreign body and an echocardiogram diagnosed pericardial effusion and abdominal ultrasound identified the presence of ascites. Concern for a possible effusive-constrictive pericarditis prompted a subphrenic pericardectomy performed via thoracoscopy. The foreign body was not recovered. Six months postsurgery, the dog remained asymptomatic.

New or Unique Information Provided

Considering the high rate of complications that develop in human patients where the foreign bodies are not removed, veterinarians should be aware of risks associated with long standing pericardial foreign bodies even when no clinical signs are present. Guidelines from the human literature may be considered for investigation of, and treatment options for, cardiac and intracardiac metallic projectile foreign bodies in dogs.