Fractured radius and ulna in a young whippet

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Patient's name: unknown as a stray

Species: Canine
Breed: Whippet
Sex: Female
Age: unknown

Condition: Fractured Radius and Ulna

History:   Sadie, a young white whippet, was brought to us on the Friday night.   She was in a sorry state - very underweight, timid and clearly in pain.   Vet Lindsey Nice examined her when she arrived and diagnosed fractures in her left front leg, the likely result of a road traffic accident.   Luckily she did not appear to have any other injuries.   Sadie was scanned for a microchip; but she did not have one, was not wearing a collar and no one had reported a dog of her description as missing.

Stray dogs are generally taken in by the Braintree Dog Warden, but given her injury we didn't want to do this.   Either way she had two options, rehoming if no one came forward in the next 7 days or euthanasia.   Sadie was otherwise healthy apart from her fracture and it didn't take anytime to decide the best course of action for her was to keep her here at the practice, repair her fracture then find her a new loving home.

She was admitted to our ward, treatment and nursing plans drawn up and christened 'Sadie' by our nurses!  It was decided that she would have her operation on the Monday.  We were able to x-ray her leg under light sedation and from these Lindsey could accurately measure Sadie's fracture and order her special implants ready for Monday morning.  Given she was so underweight and clearly frightened, the weekend would give her a chance to rebuild her strength and hopefully start to trust us.  Pain relief was top priority and was administered at regular intervals.   Over the weekend the duty nurses worked hard to gain her trust and build her confidence.   She was reluctant to eat and did not seem to know what treats were.   Plenty of TLC was required.  

On the day of surgery, premed injections were given to settle her and top up her pain relief.   And after placing an intravenous catheter in her good leg, her fluid therapy was started.   This continued throughout her procedure and well into the recovery period.   Sadie was anaethetised in our prep room, warming aids placed (which included a space blanket, bubble wrap and baby socks!), her leg clipped and cleaned ready for surgery.   

Sadie was then transferred to our sterile operating theatre.   After positing her on a special heated and padded cover on the operating table, she was given a final skin preparation and connected to our monitoring equipment.  This included ECG, pulse oximetery, capnograph, blood pressure and temperature monitoring.   Her vital signs were charted along with these measurements to ensure her anaesthetic went smoothly.   A drip line warmer was connected to make sure the intravenous fluids she received remained warm.   Keeping Sadie warm was really important.  Already thin she was a high candidate for heat loss which could be made worse by the anaesthetic lowering her body temperature.   Vet nurse Lydia Holmes, our Theatre Practice and Anaethesia Clinical Nurse Specialist was charged with monitoring Sadie's anaesthetic, from her induction to recovery.

Lindsey repaired Sadie's fracture, an operation that took an hour.   A plate was secured over the radius fracture, after it was reduced, and held in place with a number of bone screws.   It was decided to leave the ulna to heal by itself now that it had the repaired radius to support it.   Two post-op x-rays were taken to check the positioning of the implants.   These will be used when Sadie returns for her 6 week post-op check and x-ray; as a comparison and indication of how well her fractures are healing.

Over the next few days Sadie started to recover and became more comfortable.  Her pain relief continued, which included fentanyl patches - a strong slow release pain relief administered through the use of an adhesive patch stuck to her skin, (this works in the same way as nicotine patches do).  Slowly Sadie began to uncover her personality and character as she came to trust us and know we were only there to give her love and kindness.   

Things really changed for her when vet nurse Steph Gowers took over her nursing care and fostered her until she was ready to be rehomed.   At this point Ronnie, the very gentle but enthusiastic Doberman that Steph had rescued 4 years ago, became a true canine friend.   Steph had saved Ronnie when his unacceptable unruly behaviour threatened to end his life.   Steph turned his life around, into a well behaved loving family dog.   Now it was Sadie's turn.

"Sadie was in a bad way when she was brought to us.  Her broken, untreated leg was clearly causing a lot of pain.   Luckily she had not suffered any other injuries but did have a number of sore scabs over her boney pelvis area, indicating she was used to lying on hard surfaces rather than the bedding she needed.   She was emaciated.  Whippets are slender by their breed, but this was a lot more.

It was hard to nurse Sadie initially, as she came to us as a timid and scared little dog.   But this started to change as she bonded to Ronnie.   She would cower at sudden movements but also with men, which lead me to believe she had been mistreated.   She is a lovely girl and her character has really come out now.  She is still cautions when we feed her but we have noticed she has become more inquisitive.   She will now accept treats.  Ronnie has helped with this, he was more than willing to show Sadie what to do with them!  While she is a polite dog, she lacks the basic commands and it took me all of last Saturday morning to teach her to sit.   She can do it now - as you can see from the picture!

It didn't take long to find Sadie a new home.   She will have her stitches out later today but she will have to complete her 6 weeks post-op strict rest regime with her new owner.  This means visits to the toilet only, no jumping about and no walks.  Providing her 6 weeks post-op xrays show that her fractures have healed, her exercise regime will be changed to a gradual increase in exercise.  It will take a couple of months, but will be worth it.

Sadie's vet Lindsey, expects her to make a full recovery.  For further information and pictures of Sadie click here.

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