Fracture of the Radius and Ulna in Cats - Page 4

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Fracture of the Radius and Ulna in Cats

By: Dr. David Diamond

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If surgery is not required or not pursued, and a cast or splint is used to immobilize the leg instead, the animal must be strictly confined to allow the arm to heal and prevent excessive pain. Because the bone fragments are not as well stabilized when this course of treatment is followed (compared with surgical fixation), excessive motion or activity can prevent the fracture from healing at all or cause it to heal improperly.

After discharge from the hospital, the animal must be restricted from activity to allow the fracture time to heal properly. Activity must be restricted for several weeks after surgery; the duration will vary depending on the severity of the injury and any concurrent injuries the animal may have. Restricted activity means that the animal should be kept confined to a carrier, crate, or small room whenever he cannot be supervised. Playing and rough-housing should be avoided, even if he appears to be feeling well. The use of stairs should be limited.

Animals whose fracture was repaired with an external fixation device will have pins exiting the skin. The "pin tracts" should be monitored daily for excessive swelling or discharge. Some discharge is normal and any crusty build-up that occurs at these sites can be gently cleaned with warm water.

Analgesics (pain medications) or anti-inflammatories should be given as directed by the veterinarian. Analgesics, such as butorphanol (Torbugesic®) can cause sedation, and anti-inflammatories, such as aspirin or carprofen (Rimadyl®), can cause an upset stomach. Your veterinarian should be informed if any adverse side effects occur.

The skin incision needs to be monitored daily for signs of excessive swelling or discharge. These can indicate problems with the incision or infection. If at any point prior to the recheck radiographs being taken the animal stops using the leg again after some improvement following surgery, there could be a problem.

Several weeks after surgery, the arm will need to be radiographed again to make sure the bone is healing properly. If the healing has occurred as expected, the external fixator, if present, will be removed and the animal's activity level will be allowed to increase slowly back up to normal over the next few weeks.

In general, any other implants that were used in the repair will be left in place unless they cause the animal a problem at some point in the future. Potential problems can include migration (movement) or infection of the implant.

In younger animals, it's very important that the arm be monitored closely for signs of abnormal growth. Injuries to the growth plates cannot be completely determined at the time of the injury or surgery. Signs such as curving or bending of the leg or worsening lameness can occur very quickly after the injury and early intervention by the veterinarian may be able to prevent future problems.

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