Fracture of the Tibia and Fibula in Cats - Page 4

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Fracture of the Tibia and Fibula in Cats

By: Dr. David Diamond

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If a cast or splint is used to immobilize the leg, strictly confine your cat to allow the leg 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 surgery and discharge from the hospital, the animal must be restricted from activity to allow the fracture to heal properly. Activity must be restricted for several weeks after surgery. The duration will vary depending on the severity of the injury, the type of fixation that was used, and the age of the animal. Restricted activity means that the cat should be kept confined to a carrier, crate, or small room whenever he cannot be supervised, the cat cannot play or rough-house (even if he appears to be feeling well) and the use of stairs should be limited.

Cats 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.

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

Several weeks after surgery, the leg 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 cat'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 a problem at some point in the future. Potential problems can include migration (movement) or infection of the implants.

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