Handsome Ginger's big day out

Ginger is a handsome, 13 year-old domestic short hair cat who was awarded the purple heart for bravery this month. Ginger was brought to the clinic after he returned from a wander outside and seemed very sore, being unable to walk properly or sit comfortably.

Initially Ginger was so uncomfortable that we could not fully examine him to assess the source of pain. Ginger was given a fast acting pain relief and a light sedation.

On palpation (touch) of Ginger's leg, the veterinarian was concerned that Ginger may have broken his left hind leg.

After performing some X-rays, we could see that Ginger had badly broken his Femur (thigh bone) and also fractured his Femoral Head (the rounded top of the Femur that slots into the hip).

Ginger's owners were given two options. The first was to place a pin through his Femur bone and a plate over his hip to stabilise his leg. The second was to amputate his leg.

While most people may see the second option as a severe and drastic measure, Orthopaedic stabilisation including pinning and plating is very invasive and means weeks of confinement to allow for proper healing.

Amputation however is much less invasive on the remaining tissue and bone, and allows the patient to be up and mobile almost immediately. After an amputation, most patients (especially cats and small dogs) adjust extremely well and learn to move with the speed and agility they had before. Animals, unlike humans, do not suffer the feeling of loss and physiological affects after losing a limb.

Due to the nature of Ginger's injuries and chance of complications following orthopaedic surgery, Ginger's owners decided to have his leg amputated.

Following surgery Ginger was kept comfortable with intravenous morphine and lots and lots of cuddles and pats. Ginger's owners, who missed him very much, came to visit him at least twice a day and brought him all his favourite foods and bedding. After two days in hospital Ginger was weaned off his morphine and sent home to relax. His wound was looking great and the slight bruising was already reducing.

Two days later Ginger returned to the clinic for a follow up visit. Feeling much more comfortable than before the surgery, Ginger was doing very well at home. His owners were pleased with his ability to already manoeuvre on three legs (even with the plastic bucket on his head to stop him licking his wound!) He was started on a course of pentosan (a long acting anti-inflammatory injection) to reduce inflammation in the healing tissue.

Ginger recently returned to the clinic to have his sutures removed. The hair around his surgery site was already growing back, and he was in great spirits (though not too happy to be back at the clinic!).

Keep an eye out for an update on Ginger and his adventures, to be continued in next month's newsletter.

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