• Dan Alexander

Little Boy's Sticky Situation

Little Boy is a 1-year-old male Pig Dog whose owner first noticed a small wound on the dog’s foreleg after hunting in the bush. His wounds were minor and thus his owners did not think much of it. A week later, a small blister-like wound appeared and eventually started weeping. Little Boy presented with a mild but notable pain when bending his wrist (carpus). The wound lay halfway between his carpus and toes and the whole area was somewhat swollen. Looking at the wound, we concluded that there must be a small foreign object embedded in the soft tissues. Little Boy went home on medication and was scheduled to come back so that we could explore the area under a general anaesthetic if needed. Initial x-rays revealed nothing strange about the leg. We injected contrast medium (a dye that can be seen on x-rays) into the weeping hole. While confirming our suspicion that a small object was still lodged in his leg, the dye actually filled a defect about 10cm higher up, overlying his carpus.

Alligator forceps inserted within the defect, showing its depth
Contrast medium filling subcutaneous carpal defect

Little Boy was taken into surgery and a thin instrument called Alligator Forceps was inserted into the weeping hole. The alligator forceps were used to follow the tunnel up to its highest point just above the carpus. A cut was made at this point and the area dissected. A small black piece of stick / bark was visible and we removed it.

A dark object visible significantly proximal to wound

It just kept coming! A massive shard of stick or bark roughly 10cm long was pulled out of Little Boy’s leg. Considering how far the stick had travelled, it was imperative to make sure the rest of the section between the wound and the carpus was clear.

The 10 cm-long stick removed

We made an incision to join the cut over the carpus to the wound lower down on the leg. Two smaller shards of stick were removed and a long tunnel with jelly-like discharge was debrided. This discharge was evidence that the body was attempting to wall the foreign object off, which would have led to a continuous source of infection, leading to continual oozing and a refusal to heal. Once all the infected tissue had been scraped out, we closed the incision and placed a restrictive bandage to prevent movement and give the leg time to heal. Little Boy’s owner reported back today (roughly 3 weeks since his operation) that he is doing very well, out hunting and being a dog again.

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