Polyurethane adhesive ingestion

Top Companion Anim Med. 2013 Feb;28(1):28-31. doi: 10.1053/j.tcam.2013.03.007.


Polyurethane adhesives are found in a large number of household products in the United States and are used for a variety of purposes. Several brands of these expanding wood glues (those containing diphenylmethane diisocyanate [MDI]) have the potential to form gastrointestinal (GI) foreign bodies if ingested. The ingested adhesive forms an expanding ball of glue in the esophagus and gastric lumen. This expansion is caused by a polymerization reaction using the heat, water, and gastric acids of the stomach. A firm mass is created that can be 4-8 times its original volume. As little as 2 oz of glue have been reported to develop gastric foreign bodies. The obstructive mass is reported to form within minutes of ingestion of the adhesive. The foreign body can lead to esophageal impaction and obstruction, airway obstruction, gastric outflow obstruction, mucosal hemorrhage, ulceration, laceration, perforation of the esophageal and gastric linings, and death. Clinical signs following ingestion include anorexia, lethargy, vomiting, tachypnea, and abdominal distention and pain, and typically develop within 12 hours. Clinical signs may depend upon the size of the mass. If left untreated, perforation and rupture of the esophagus or stomach can occur. The glue mass does not stick to the GI mucosa and is not always detectable on abdominal palpation. Radiographs are recommended to confirm the presence of the "glue-ball" foreign body, and radiographic evidence of the obstruction may be seen as early as 4-6 hours following ingestion. Emesis is contraindicated owing to the risk of aspiration of the glue into the respiratory tree or the subsequent lodging of the expanding glue mass in the esophagus. Likewise, efforts to dilute the glue and prevent the formation of the foreign body through administration of liquids, activated charcoal, or bulk-forming products to push the foreign body through the GI tract have proven ineffective. Even endoscopy performed to remove the foreign body has been shown to be unreliable. The safest, most effective, and successful therapy is surgical intervention to remove the GI foreign body. If performed early enough, complete recovery of the animal can be expected. Differential diagnoses for polyurethane adhesive ingestion include any potential cause of GI obstruction. The public is largely unaware of the hazards that ingestion of this product may produce. Public education efforts are needed to inform pet owners about the hazards of these glues and the overall importance of providing our companion animals with safe, poison-free environments.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adhesives / poisoning*
  • Animals
  • Dog Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Dogs
  • Foreign Bodies / metabolism
  • Foreign Bodies / therapy
  • Foreign Bodies / veterinary*
  • Pets*
  • Polyurethanes / poisoning*
  • Prognosis


  • Adhesives
  • Polyurethanes