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Laceration in Cats

By: Dr. David Diamond

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Diagnosis In-depth

Diagnostic tests are needed to recognize the impact of the laceration on your pet. Some of these include:

  • Complete medical history and physical examination. It is important to determine whether your pet is showing signs of hypovolemic shock secondary to the trauma or blood loss.

  • It is also important to determine if there are other injuries present. Small lacerations can be difficult to find if they are not bleeding or the animal has thick hair or fur. Lung damage, broken bones or ligament injuries may occur with trauma and may require treatment.

  • If severe hemorrhage has occurred, a PCV (packed cell volume), will be performed to see if your pet has lost too much blood. The test gives an estimate of the percentage of red blood cells present in the blood stream. It is performed by placing a small sample of your pet's blood usually taken from one of the legs, in a centrifuge and spinning it down.

    Treatment In-depth

    Treatment will depend upon the cause of the trauma and secondary injuries present and may be emergency care, emergency wound care, or definitive wound care.

    Emergency Care

  • Intravenous fluids will be administered if your cat is showing signs of shock. Fluid therapy can help support the cardiovascular system in maintaining blood pressure and making sure that the body receives oxygen.

  • Blood transfusions are needed if there is anemia from severe blood loss. When the body has lost excessive amounts of blood, it becomes very difficult for the heart and lungs to supply sufficient amounts of oxygen to the tissues. The red blood cells in a blood transfusion, will prevent the tissues from becoming hypoxic, or starved of adequate oxygen.

    Emergency Wound Care

  • Stop continued bleeding to prevent hypoxia, or lack of oxygen delivery to tissues. Hypoxia of the damaged tissues in the wound worsens tissue necrosis (cell death) and inhibits the immune system from fighting bacteria thus increasing the chance for the wound to become infected.

  • Remove major contamination from the wound. Debris in the wound acts as a source for bacteria to infect the wound and impairs the body's immune system from fighting infection.

  • Cover the wound with a bandage until definitive treatment can be done. Covering the wound minimizes further contamination and potential infection.

    Definitive Wound Care

  • Your pet may need to be anesthetized to allow the wound to be treated adequately without causing undo pain.

  • The wound and surrounding skin are clipped free of hair to allow the wound to be thoroughly cleaned and monitored while healing.

  • Antibacterial scrub solutions are used to clean the wound and surrounding skin in order to reduce further contamination while the laceration is being repaired.

  • Any severely traumatized tissue is excised from the wound. This surgical debridement facilitates the body's ability to clean up the wound, and lessens the chance that the wound will become infected.

  • Damaged muscles, tendons, or ligaments are repaired at this stage, before retraction of these structures makes reconstruction much more difficult if it is performed later.

  • The wound is closed whenever possible, to minimize the chance for infection. In some cases, a drain is left in the wound protruding from a separate hole in the skin, which allows excess fluids to flow out of the wound, preventing fluid build-up under the skin. This is another way of reducing the chance for infection. The drain is usually removed in a few days when the amount of discharge is small.

  • In major lacerations, in which there has been excessive skin loss or contamination, the wound may be left open. Daily wound debridement may be necessary until the wound is clean enough to be closed. In some cases, the wound may not be closed and the body will be allowed to heal the wound on its own.

  • Intravenous and oral antibiotics are used in many cases to prevent an infection from becoming established, or to help the body fight the infection once it is established. A broad-spectrum antibiotic is used to cover the typical kinds of bacteria that might infect a laceration.

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