Foreign bodies (FBs) retained in the subcutaneous tissues are a common reason for medical consultation. In small animals, FBs usually consist of vegetal materials, especially grass awns. Failure to remove the FBs is likely to give rise to acute or late complications. The surgical removal of the FBs can be invasive, costly and technically challenging. Ultrasound has become a mainstay in the detection of FBs and it can be used to guide the extraction of the FBs with a minimally invasive technique. This study describes the detection and extraction of soft-tissue FBs in small animals. One hundred-sixty-two patients, presenting at two veterinary clinics with suspected FBs retained in the soft tissues of various body districts, were considered. Once an ultrasound diagnosis was established, the ultrasound-guided removal of the FB was performed. A high-frequency linear transducer, a skin disinfection, sedation or anaesthesia was used when needed and a scalpel and some Hartmann forceps were also used. One hundred-eighty-two FBs were successfully removed in all the patients. In six cases, the FB was identified during a second ultrasonographic examination, after recurrence of the fistula. No complications were reported after the procedure. The extraction of the FB was performed in an echographic suite in 138 cases and in a surgery room with surgical intervention in 24 cases. In the latter situation, the surgical minimally invasive dissection of tissues under ultrasound guidance was performed before the removal of the FB. In conclusion, the ultrasound-guided removal of the FBs retained in the superficial soft tissue can be considered a good alternative to surgery. However, failure to remove a FB does not preclude the removal by traditional surgery.
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