Soft Tissue Surgery;
Repair of Cuts, Abscess', & Wounds
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Introduction to soft tissue surgery


What To Expect When You Go To The Vet  With a Pet Needing Surgery For a Wound

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Our introductory page about surgery

Considerations BEFORE Surgery

Post Op Considerations

Spays (Ovariohysterectomies) in Dogs, Cats, and Other Pets

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Ear Cropping


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Using the Omentum

Soft Tissue Surgery

Descenting Ferrets, Skunks etc

About the Treatment of Injuries, Abscess', ETC

Except for spaying and neutering, we do more soft tissue surgery than anything else.  Often 4-5 cases a day.  What I'm talking about here is the repair of cuts, wounds, and abscesses. 

Pets are always getting bit, cut, punctured, or wounded. Luckily most of these problems, while potentially serious, are pretty easy to fix.  Also luckily, this is my favorite type of surgery; cleaning, trimming, and fixing up wounds.

Despite the fact that most of these cases are relatively easy, there are quite a few steps involved that require careful attention:

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This is a cat bite wound near the tail head on a cat.  This is one of the most common wounds we see. Usually easy to repair but disastrous if ignored or not treated adequately.  Bites wounds such as these are especially common in non castrated male cats.
1.  Exam of the patient.  In addition to the obvious wound, there is often fever, infection, glandular swelling, GI stasis, mild shock, and additional less obvious wounds present that need to be identified.

2.  Deal with the patient's fear, panic, and pain if necessary.

3.  Consider pre-anesthetic testing, pre-surgical antibiotics, fluid therapy, and other pre-anesthetic medications.

4.  Careful anesthesia

5.  Aggressive cleaning of the patient or at least the wound area.  A lot of wound patients are filthy with combinations of dried blood, mud, urine, and stool.  

We like to clean the whole patient in order to look for additional wounds and because many of these patients will need to be kept indoors during their recovery period.  And of course we need to clean the actual wound , as well as clip or shave the hair in the area to minimize the chance of infection.

6.  Trimming of any damaged tissue, removal of ingrained grit and debris, ligation of any bleeders, repair, if needed of underlying structures, place wound drains if needed, and repeat hydro-therapy.

Some older wounds, especially bite wound abscesses in cats have fistulas (tunnels of inflammatory tissue containing bacteria ) that needed to be carefully dug out of the surrounding tissue.

7.  Closure of  the wound.  Sometimes this will require skin grafts, and sometimes the wound will need to be left partially open.  Wound drains may be needed, and if so, will need close attention.

8.  Laser therapy.  If your vet has a therapy laser, it helps to speed healing, reduce inflammation, swelling, and pain.  Follow up laser treatments are often needed for best results.

9.  Post op wound washes, topical wound treatments, bandages, e collars, antibiotics, pain management, and frequent rechecking will be needed depending on the severity of the wound. 

10.  Don't be surprised if follow up care is needed. Sometimes fluid builds up that needs to be drained and repeat surgeries are needed for some wounds. 

And sutures or staples, if used, will need to be removed...usually about 10-14 days after the surgery.

There's more information on my page about the treatment of injuries and abscesses

We vets see some amazing wounds in practice, but this cat with an arrow wound is rather unusual.
This case, which occured in Indiana, was reported on the news.  Assuming the arrow slid over the top of the skull without serious damage to the brain, this dramatic wound was probably fairly easy wound to treat successfully.  Sometimes it's the wounds that don't look too bad that are the worse.
This terrible wound of this dog's ear will probably need a skin flap surgery, might need a follow up surgery, and a plan to keep the patient from scratching the healing wound.
The original wound on this dog was huge and deep. With patience, surgery, antibiotics, and an owner willing to keep the open wound clean... this wound will probably be totally healed (except for hair regrowth) in a few more weeks.