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Never fear when a rabbit stasis patient is near

02 February 2024
8 mins read
Volume 15 · Issue 1


Managing a gut stasis rabbit can be very challenging for a veterinary team. The goal should be to resolve the acute, potentially life-threatening condition, to then allow the veterinary surgeon to diagnose the cause of why the gastrointestinal stasis has occurred in the first place. Given the nature of these patients and how high maintenance they can be, a lot of the monitoring and care falls on the veterinary nurse. The veterinary nurse becomes the eyes and ears for the veterinary surgeon and the information that is passed on to them can impact the treatment plan of the patient. Some veterinary nurses may find this daunting and, certainly in the author's own practice, some nurses enjoy working with rabbits more than others. The aim, as a cohesive team, has been to create a protocol which everyone can use to standardise how stasis patients are treated and boost the confidence of less experienced team members.

There are often occasions where, under vet instruction, the veterinary nurse may have to triage the patient initially. For example, if the nurse is waiting for a veterinary surgeon to arrive at the practice or the veterinary surgeon is scrubbed for a procedure. What is found in this initial triage can be vital in providing the best care for the patient as soon as possible. A well constructed triage sheet can help provide the veterinary surgeon and veterinary nurse with much needed information on the condition of the patient.

A hands off exam of the patient in its carrier should be performed first. From this the veterinary nurse can assess if the patient is collapsed or dyspnoeic, which would require immediate critical care treatment. If this is not the case, a discussion with the owner would always be the next step. Basic questions should be asked, such as age, vaccination status, pre-existing health conditions, neutering status and current medications. The issue at hand is then discussed and duration of inappetence, faecal output and behaviour changes should be asked about. After this, a physical exam should be performed including chest and abdominal auscultations. In the chest, listen for rate, quality, respiratory noise, murmurs and arrhythmias. In the abdomen, the assessor would be listening for the presence of gut sounds. The author would then do a basic check of the patient from nose to tail checking:

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