In combat zone, gastroenterologists put skills to test

October 26, 2009

San Diego, CA (October 26, 2009) - Most of today's gastroenterologists practice in relatively calm environments with patients of the same species. But for Dr. Leon Kundrotas and his colleagues working in Joint Base Balad, Iraq, the need to diagnose and treat military personnel sometimes required putting their human skills to the test to care for canine heroes. In a poster being presented at the American College of Gastroenterology's 74th Annual Scientific Meeting in San Diego, Dr. Kundrotas examines how gastroenterologists on deployment put their endoscopic skills to work to treat military dogs that provide vital protective roles in security and munitions detection.

Working with on-site veterinarians, Dr. Kundrotas and his team performed endoscopies on a number of military working dogs who were experiencing signs and symptoms of gastrointestinal complications or disease. While some diagnostic procedures turned up swallowed objects like tacks and rocks that were eventually removed, others revealed more complex and serious problems like an obstructing carcinoma in the proximal colon of one dog who, sadly, died during deployment.

"On deployment, we do many diagnostic procedures on coalition troops, contractors, detainees and Iraqis," explains Dr. Kundrotas. "At times our familiarity with human anatomy and physiology has to be applied for the diagnosis and treatment of other mammals. We all have great admiration for military working dogs. One of the dogs we treated had uncovered a cache of weapons only days before. Ours was a unique situation that contributed in a small way to the bottom line of the mission by getting these dogs well and back on their feet again."

Military working dogs are highly trained professionals who are designated a rank one level higher than their handlers. Each military working dog is named after a fallen hero.

"As gastroenterologists, we are sometimes confronted with challenging anatomies. Our experience takes that to another level," said Dr. Kundrotas. "For many of us, working with dogs was a break from working with the severely injured on a daily basis. While working dogs are by no means pets, when we did a procedure on a dog the whole staff was concerned and generally involved because of the affinity we feel with these wonderful animals and the memories of our own dogs back home."
About the American College of Gastroenterology

Founded in 1932, the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) is an organization with an international membership of more than 11,000 individuals from 80 countries. The College is committed to serving the clinically oriented digestive disease specialist through its emphasis on scholarly practice, teaching and research. The mission of the College is to serve the evolving needs of physicians in the delivery of high quality, scientifically sound, humanistic, ethical, and cost-effective health care to gastroenterology patients.

View releases on other research breaking at the ACG meeting at

American College of Gastroenterology

Related Dogs Articles from Brightsurf:

Dogs are sensitive to their owners' choice despite their own preference
Inspired by work on infants, researchers investigated whether dogs' behaviors are guided by human displays of preference or by the animals' own choices.

Researchers identify new Rickettsia species in dogs
Researchers have identified a new species of Rickettsia bacteria that may cause significant disease in dogs and humans.

Paleogenomics -- the prehistory of modern dogs
An international team of scientists has used ancient DNA samples to elucidate the population history of dogs.

Tracking the working dogs of 9/11
A study of search and rescue dogs led by the School of Veterinary Medicine showed little difference in longevity or cause of death between dogs at the disaster site and dogs in a control group.

Fighting like cats and dogs?
We are all familiar with the old adage ''fighting like cat and dog'', but a new scientific study now reveals how you can bid farewell to those animal scraps and foster a harmonious relationship between your pet pooch and feline friend.

Why cats have more lives than dogs when it comes to snakebite
Cats are twice as likely to survive a venomous snakebite than dogs, and the reasons behind this strange phenomenon have been revealed by University of Queensland research.

Adolescence is ruff for dogs too
The study, headed by Dr Lucy Asher from Newcastle University, is the first to find evidence of adolescent behavior in dogs.

Urban dogs are more fearful than their cousins from the country
Inadequate socialisation, inactivity and an urban living environment are associated with social fearfulness in dogs.

Veterinarians: Dogs, too, can experience hearing loss
Just like humans, dogs are sometimes born with impaired hearing or experience hearing loss as a result of disease, inflammation, aging or exposure to noise.

Dogs and wolves are both good at cooperating
A team of researchers have found that dogs and wolves are equally good at cooperating with partners to obtain a reward.

Read More: Dogs News and Dogs Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to