Fracture Repair in Cats - Page 5

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Fracture Repair in Cats

By: Dr. Nicholas Trout

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The cast or splint needs to be kept clean and dry. The top of the cast may have a tendency to rub or chaff the skin. The toes at the bottom will need to be assessed for swelling, sweating or pain. Sore areas will necessitate that the cast is changed. The cast may have fitted snugly at the time of initial placement but because the swelling at the fracture site resolves, the cast may become loose.

Casts and splints may seem like the least expensive option but cast complications that necessitate numerous changes can add up, particularly if sedation or anesthesia is required to change a cast. In many cases, other forms of fixation may not actually cost that much more.

The skin-pin interface of an external fixator will need attention to keep the area clean and dry as discharge and crusting commonly occur at these sites. Sometimes pus will be noticed at this interface and is not uncommon. You should consult with your veterinarian to ensure that the discharge is reasonable and to be expected.

External fixators may not be appropriate for some pet owners who find the devices distasteful to look at and manage.

Cats must be restricted and confined when wearing an external fixator as it is possible to snag the device on furniture or other household items if the pets are given too much freedom.

When internal fixation has been performed, there will be a surgical incision which will have to be checked daily for swelling, redness and discharge. Stitches or staples will need to be removed in 10 to 14 days following surgery.

All animals that are recovering from fracture repair surgery or are in a cast or splint will need restrained activity: they should be confined to a small area; going up or down stairs (unless unavoidable) should not be allowed; they should not be allowed to jump on and off furniture; and they must be kept indoors.

The fracture will be re-evaluated and x-rayed again by your veterinarian from 4 to 8 weeks after the surgery or cast placement, depending on the nature of the fracture and the age of your pet. Young kittens heal quickly and may have cast removal after only a few weeks, whereas older debilitated animals may not heal properly for months.

The external fixator may be removed in stages in order to increase the work of the healing bone that has been stabilized. This can involve removal of a couple of pins at a time over a number of weeks until the device is fully removed. The holes where the pin was removed should be kept clean until they dry up and scab over. Infection tracking along a pin and into the underlying bone is extremely unusual.

Most plates, screws, pins and wires can remain in place if they are not causing a problem. If they are backing out or migrating from the bone they will usually cause swellings, pain or lameness and should be removed. This may require sedation or a general anesthesia.

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