Bruiser’s Story – Gallbladder Mucocele

Jack Russell Terrier dog treated for gallbladder mucocele

Jack Russell Terrier Bruiser talking a walk in the garden at Fitzpatrick Referrals Guildford hospital following treatment for gallbladder mucocele.

Bruiser is a 13-year-old Jack Russell Terrier who had been steadily losing weight. This had gone on for some time until he suddenly he became a lot more unwell, almost overnight – he stopped eating, was vomiting and developed a high temperature.

He was taken to his local vet where he was put on IV fluids and an abdominal ultrasound was performed. The scan showed the presence of what was likely a gallbladder mucocele – where the gallbladder is distended due to an accumulation of mucous and fluid blocking all the ducts. The gallbladder can rupture and this can be life-threatening.

Emergency referral

A decision needed to be made quickly and Bruiser was referred to our Guildford hospital on a Friday evening where he was admitted by our emergency on-call team, who worked quickly to stabilise him and to manage the pain he was in.

Internal Medicine Specialist Dr Magda Gerrou-Ferriani assessed Bruiser and explained that there was a possibility of an underlying condition affecting his liver which may have caused the gallbladder to develop a mucocele. The first step in managing this situation, potentially, would be to perform a cholecystectomy to remove the gallbladder. Surgery always carries some degree of risk, but it was very likely that removing the gallbladder would resolve the problems Bruiser was experiencing and so his family agreed to go ahead with the surgery.


The following day, Surgical Resident Dr Andrea Galliano and Senior Surgeon Dr Laurent Findji operated on Bruiser, successfully removing his gallbladder. Biopsies of the liver and gallbladder were also taken and these samples of tissue were sent to an external laboratory.

An abdominal drain was placed at the surgical site to empty fluids and to be able to analyse their content. An oesophageal feeding tube was placed so that Bruiser could be fed and a urinary catheter was also placed to make his recovery time more comfortable.


After a few days of careful monitoring, Bruiser had recuperated enough to be able to go home to his family. The results from the tissue that had been sampled during the surgery had come back from the pathologist and it was now clear that Bruiser had cholangiohepatitis – a condition affecting the liver, which can be infectious or inflammatory.

As bacteria were found to be present in Bruiser’s liver, this meant that his was the infectious type and so he was discharged with antibiotics, to return in a week for Dr Gerrou-Ferriani to assess his progress and begin managing this ongoing condition.

We wish him a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing him at his next visit!

Fitzpatrick Referrals