Nala the kitten was lucky not to lose an eye after she somehow ate a sewing needle, which then pierced through the roof of her mouth and into her skull.
Her owners Francouis and Inge Kroukamp, both 40, quickly rushed her to the vets when they realised what had happened.
Staff at Dick White Referrals in Cambridge quickly x-rayed her and could see the needle was just a few millimetres away from 14-week-old Nala’s eye socket.
Vets were concerned that if the needle was dislodged or snapped, it could either blind Nala or fall into her stomach and cause potentially fatal internal bleeding.
During a four hour operation, they were able to remove it and Nala has made a full recovery.
Francouis, of Haverhill, Suffolk, said: ‘It was a very traumatic situation and we were really alarmed as it seemed to be a lose-lose situation.
‘The needle was near Nala’s eye socket and there was a danger it could move and she’d lose her eye or it could become dislodged and go down into her stomach and damager her intestines.’
Head of cardiac surgery Poppy Bristow, internal medicine consultant Jess Florey and surgery resident Tom Anderson worked with the nursing, anaesthesia and imaging teams to rescue Nala’s vision.
Poppy said: ‘It’s very unusual to have a case where a sewing needle is stuck in a pet’s mouth like this. I’ve certainly never had a case like it.
‘Somehow little Nala had managed to eat a tiny sewing needle which became stuck in a rather unusual position.
‘It had travelled through the hard palate and was pointing upwards into her head.
They used a mini camera to locate the needle at the back of her throat before making a small incision.
Poppy continued: ‘The needle wasn’t visible from the mouth so we guided an endoscope, which is like a mini camera on a tube, into the back of the throat and nasal cavity and could see the needle going up through there.
‘Nala was quickly taken for surgery which was challenging as she is a small kitten and the needle was sitting over her hard palate, which is an extremely tricky area to reach.
‘The needle was also very small so all of these things combined made it especially fiddly.
‘Once we made a surgical approach to the area, we re-inserted the scope to confirm the exact positioning.
‘Using a tiny pair of forceps, we then grasped the needle and carefully pulled it downwards, ensuring we maintained the same trajectory throughout so it didn’t snap.
‘It was very tricky but very successful. The needle was removed safely and Nala was bright and happy when she was discharged the following day.
‘When she subsequently came back for her post-operative check-up, she was doing very well indeed so we’re all delighted.’
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