Wound management part 2: The approach of traumatic wounds



51559132_952390804967417_8511078558653743104_nFlorin Delureanu


March 2017



From a general point of wiev, a traumatic injury is defined as a physical damage caused by an external factor. Even if we talk about a road traffic accident, a burn or projectile injuries, all of them represents a trauma for the body. Because the first part of this series described the physiologic process of healing and how can wounds be recognized according to the phase in which they are, the second part will highlight how wounds can be addressed.

Initial assessment of the patient

Due to various types of trauma, the patient should be treated according to the requirements. The patient can be unstable after a road traffic accident, after a fighting with another dog or can be bright, alert if superficial lesions are present (patients that develop wounds due to scratching). If the patient is not stable the plan must be focused first on stabilization by checking the major function (A- airway, B- breathing, C-cardiovascular, etc) followed by a good pain control and assess the life-threatening injuries. In an emergency situations is recommended to cover the wounds with sterile gauze or another type of sterile material to provide haemostasis and to protect against another contaminants that are considered already present in the wound.

Evaluation of the wound

When the patient became comfortable, a wound evaluation must be performed. There are some factors that can help the surgeon to take a decision regarding the local management. Therefore, the following should be considered:

  • the degree of contamination;
  • when the injury took place;
  • the degree of tissue ischaemia;
  • the amount of tissue loss;
  • type of wound (burn, snake bite, etc).

About the length of time between the production of the trauma and the presentation of the patient to the clinic and the degree of contamination, wounds are classified as clean, clean-contaminated, contaminated and infected (see details in part1).               Because every injury has as a result blood loss, the tissue exposed may have different aspect and can help with the prognosis. The first aspect of the wound may be misinterpreted due to colour and integrity of the surrounding tissues. Many times the skin is crushed due to a powerfull trauma and just small superficial wounds may be present. If at first presentation the skin looks normal and the small wounds have a clean aspect and the trauma happend in less than 4-6 hours not every time will be a good ideea to do a primary closure. Some wounds may have good viability but because the tissues are crushed can develop necrosis and some wounds may have an ischaemic aspect but if the surrounding tissues are not traumatised the evolution can be favorable. As a conclusion, not every time a primary closure will be a wright decision, sometimes wounds need 2-4 days to “settle” depending of the type of trauma.                The amount of tissue loss will guide the surgeon to use specific dressings according to depth and length if second intention healing will be elected.               Regarding wound type, some specific considerations must be taken. For example, bite wounds should be explored whereas for an early frostbite wound the patient must be rewarmed first.


Fig1. Basic wound management in six simple steps (Atlas of Small Animal Wound Management and Reconstructive Surgery, 4th Edition Michael M. Pavletic, April 2018

As an approach, wounds can be managed by closure (primary closure, delay primary closure, secondary closure already described in part 1) or can be left for second intention healing.

Second intention healing occurs when a wound is left to heal by contraction and epithelialization. All wounds can be left to heal by second intention but this process may fail at a point or may end without providing a functional outcome. There are some reasons why not every time a complete healing by second intention (especially large wounds and in high motion area-joints, axillary, inguinal) is not recommended: the granulation tissue is very fragile and easly abraded; wound contraction, sometimes excessive, may impede normal function.

Some wounds may fail to completely reepithelialize. Open wound management is indicated in dirty, traumatized, contaminated wounds in which cleansing and debridement is necessary.

Wound preparation – cleansing

To prevent further contamination of the wound in the time of cleaning, all equipement must be sterile. Prior to application of topical treatments, the wound bed must be properly prepared. Initially the wound must be protected with a sterile lubricant (eg. K-Y sterile gel) or sterile gauze soaked in warm saline. After protection, the hair that surrounds the wound must be clipped. The hair represent one of the main foreign body that can imped wound healing in a clean wound. Next, lavage the wound with a proper solution under 7-8 psi to remove the surface contaminants and in the end dry the skin surrounding the wound. This may facilitate the adhesion of the dressing and also will prevent maceration of the skin if the wound is highly exudative.

  • Wound lavage: many lavage solutions are availabile. Most popular are
fig 2

Fig.2 Basic kit for wound lavage composed by seringe, 3 way-stop cock, 18G needle, intravenous tube and 500ml bag of sterile saline.

clorhexidine, betadine, Ringer’s and sterile saline. A study from human medicine compared tap water with sterile saline for wound irrigation and showed no difference in occurance of infection. Clorhexidine is availabile in many concentrations (4%, 2%, 0,5%) but for open wounds 0,05%  solution should be used. To obtain this concentration, 25ml of clorhexidine 2% must be mixed with 1liter bag of solution. Betadine may be a good option to use in wounds located on the face, particulary near eyes because clorhexidine have very toxic effect if will get in contact with the eyes. Betadine also must be diluted to a proper concentration (0,1%-1% solution). To obtain this solution, 1-10ml of 10% betadine must be mixed with 1 liter bag of solution. As a comparation, clorhexidine is not activated by anorganic matter while as betadine is inactivated by anorganic matter such as blood or exudate. Also a 0,01% clorhexidine gluconate with tris-EDTA solution was described for wound lavage. This combination help lyse Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli, and Proteus vulgaris. Recently polyhexanide/betaine (Prontosan), a solution or gel containing 0.1% of the antimicrobial agent polyhexanide and 0.1% of the surfactant betaine was described as a lavage solution in wounds with good results.


One of the key of this procedure is not necessarily the type of solution used, but the amount used. A copious lavage of 500-1000ml is recommended. The ideal pressure of 7-8 psi can be provided by different systems. The most cheapest way is to use an 18G needle, a 3 way stop cock, saline bag, 35-60ml seringe and an intravenous tube. Pressure cuff also can be attached to the solution bag and 300mm Hg pressure can be maintained to provide 7-8 psi in the time of lavage. If the pressure is too high, the healthy tissue can break; if the pressure is under 7-8 psi the surface contaminants may not be removed completely.

After cleansing, if the wound is not considered contaminated, primary closure is indicated. Most of traumatic wounds need also debridement.


Fig. 3 Wet to dry bandage applied on a wound located on the ventral aspect of the metatarsal area in a cat as a nonselective form of debridement

Debridement: can be selective or nonselective. Usually chronic wounds needs debridement but also fresh wounds which present devitalized tissue. Surgical and mechanical debridement are considered nonselective forms. For surgical debridement different surgical instruments can be used (scalpel, scissors, etc.) and adherent bandages (wet-to-dry / dry-to-dry) are used for mechanical debridement.


Surgical debridement must be performed in layers, step by step until the necrotic/ devitalized tissue has been removed and blood can be visible from the wound edges or from the bed. An en block surgical debridement can be performed but this can be limited due to location and size. The wound margins should be closed with suture material or towel clamps can be applied for a temporary closure and after the entire wound is excised, including a margin of healthy tissue. Wound irrigation is also considered a nonselective debridement.There is no strong evidence that cleansing wounds increases healing or reduces infection, but it is almost universally recommended.

Three forms of selective debridement are described: enzymatic, autolytic, biosurgical/ biotherapeutic.



  • Enzymatic debridement – includes proteolytic enzymes that break down the necrotic

Fig.4 An example of ointment with papain and urea used for enzymatic debridement

tissue. Papain, trypsin, chymotripsin, fibrinolysine, collagenase, urea are the most common enzymes used for enzymatic debridement. Castor oil, balsam of Peru, desoxyribonuclease are also described.


As an advantage, they will not damage healthy tissue. This type of debridement is used less and less nowadays in wound management because is less effective and needs a long period of time to have the proper effect. Surgical debridement may facilitate enzymatic debridement.

  • Autolytic debridement – is the most preferate selective debridement. Is less painfull in

compare with the other types. This method involves maintaining a moist environement on the wound so that natural enzymatic “phenomens” can take place. Hydrogels, hydrocolloids and foams are very common used to support autolytic debridement and will be described later as moisture retentive dressings. Due to their high osmolarity, honey and sugar can also be used also for autolytic debridement. They attract the fluid and will keep a moist environement.


  • Biosurgical debridement – refers to usage of maggots (Lucilia Sericata, Phaenicia

Sericata) and have and FDA approval since 2004. The maggots produce enzymes that dissolve the necrotic tissue and don’t interact with healthy tissue, that’s why the debridement is selective. They are applied in the wound as larva stage (4-7 days of life) and can be left in place 3-4 days. At the moment of application the larvae have 2-3 mm and in 4 days grow until 10-15mm. The optimal activity of the maggots depends on the wound pH. They don’t survive in an acidic environment. An 8.5 pH in the wound is preffered. Each maggot may consume up to 75mg of necrotic tissue every day. They cannot penetrate dry necrotic tissue or eschar therefore are not indicated for this situation.



Moisture retentive Dressings (MDR’s)

Transepidermal water loss represents the the amount of fluid lost by the normal skin. In humans with intact skin the transepidermal water loss is 4–9 g/m2/h. In partial and full-thickness wounds the water loss increase up to 90 g/m2/h. Dressings that have a low moisture vapor transmission value, less than 35 g/m2/h, are considered moisture retentive. In humans was found that the dressing with a water vapor transmission rate of 2028.3 ± 237.8 g/m2/24h was able to maintain an optimal moisture content for the proliferation and regular function of epidermal cells and fibroblasts in a three-dimensional culture model.                The process of wound healing can be accelerated by a moist environment. MDR’s retain water and hydrate the tissue and facilitate natural autolytic debridement. All wounds need to be covered with a specific dressing to maintain a proper moisture until full epithelialization otherwise the granulation tissue will get dry and eschar will occur. MDR’s are availabile on the market in various sizes, shapes, thicknesses, with or without adherent margins. They must be applied on top of the wound as a first layer and after can be covered with the second (absorbent layer) and third layer (protective layer).


Fig.5 Lateral view of a polyurethanic foam. Noticed the convex shape that the foam acquired after beign moistened. Due to this particularity this dressing have a good contact with the wound bed.

Polyurethane foams: is a porous nonadherent dressing that can be used in moderate to high exudative wounds. It absorb several times it’s weight. Is recommended to be used in sterile wounds and regularly must be changed every 3-5 days. With time, the period in which the dressing must be kept in place will change according to the amount of exudate. Some articles described that can be used also over infected wound bed but must be changed every 24 hours.


Can or cannot have adhesive borders and does not transform in gel. It is contraindicated in wounds with low exudate and not recommended in areas with bony proeminence because is very soft and cannot protect the damaged area. In compare with hydrocolloids and alginates, foams are less effective for autolytic debridement.

Alginates (calcium alginate): have high absorbtive properties. It absorbs 20-30 times its weight in fluid. In contact with the exudate, alginates transforms in gel. Is derived from brown seaweed and is recommended in high exudative wounds. It promotes haemostasis and Ca2+ stimulates macrophages and fibroblast activity. Is not recommended to be used in low exudative wounds.


Fig.6 Calcium alginate appearance. Left picture represents calcium alginate sheet applied on dorsal and ventral aspect of metatarsal area in a cat with a degloving injury after surgical debridement; Right picture represents the aspect of calcium alginate 24 hours later in the same patient; Note the transformation from dry fibers in gel and the proximal area in which the dressing was absorbed (yellow arrow).















As a presentation form, alginates are used in flat sheets and can be applied even in narrow cavities. On the market alginates can be found in combination with silver, zinc or honey.

Hydrogels: are indicated in low exudative wounds. They donate fluid to wound but can also absorbe it. Can be found in two presentation forms-sheet and gel. Contains 60-95% water and the cooling effect may decrease pain. Is not indicated in high exudative wounds because maceration can occur. Overgranulation has been reported after usage of hydrogels in excess. In cavitary wounds the gel form is inficated due to better contact. Hydrogels can also be used to soak the dry necrotic tissue.


Fig.7 Left picture describes hydrogel sheet used on the lateral aspect of digit IV in a dog with and abrasion wound. The wound had partial epithelialization and a small area with granulation tissue and the level of exudate was low. In the right picture gel shaped hydrogel is placed on Primapore.


Various forms of hydrogels combinations are availabile: with hyaluronic acid, alginate, collagen, etc. Can be left in place 3-4 days in non-infected wounds. They are permeable to gas and water and have proven to be a less effective bacterial barrier than occlusive dressings.






Hydrocolloids: have in composition may constituents like sodium arboxymethylcellulose,

gelatin, pectin, and polyisobutylene. Gelatin, pectin, elastomers, alginates, silver, and other materials can be added to these substrates. In contact with exudate it transform in gel and maintain a moist environment. Hydrocolloids are indicated in wounds with low to moderate exudate.

Sheets, powder and paste are the form of presentation. In compare with alginates, foams and hydrogels, the contact face of hydrocolloids is adherent but just on the skin, not on the granulation bed. Regarding permeability, hydrocolloids are semi-permeable to water vapour and oxygen but not permeable to bacteria and other contaminants. Is not recommended in infected wounds. May cause overgranulation.

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Fig. 8 Different aspects of hydrocolloid dressing. (a) Fresh hydrocolloid applied on a mild exudative wound in a dog; the dressing have is brown and opaque. (b) View of the dressing 5 days after application on the dorsal metacarpal area in cat. Note the brown dark colour that hydrocolloid achieved. (c) Dressing removal in the same patient in the same day. Note the yellow, gelly and bright aspect due to granulation bed contact.



Miscellaneous dressings

Honey – called also natural dressing, they are composed by glucose, fructose, sucrose, maltose, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and enzimes. Honey is the most popular product used as a topical treatment for wounds; have an antimicrobial effect due to low pH (3-4.5 ), release of small amounts of hydrogen peroxide or the presence of methyglyoxal. Honey promotes autolytic debridement and reduce oedema due to high osmolarity. It was demonstrated that honey have effect against a multitude of bacteria including Pseudomonas spp., MRSA and E. coli. Composition of honey does vary according to the geographical source. Many types of honey are availabile, from raw honey to medical grade. Manuka honey (Leptospermum scoparium) that originates from New Zealand is the most common used in humans and animals for wound care. Medical grade Manuka honey is recommended despite raw honey because raw honey may contain bacteria and fungal contaminants including anaerobic spore‐forming organisms. Recently was developed a new type of honey was developed which is not manuka honey. SurgihoneyRO is an antimicrobial wound gel utilising bioengineered honey to deliver Reactive Oxigen and is superior to Manuka honey. It cames in a variety of form such as gels, sheets, in combination with alginates or simple gauze. Honey is recommended in wounds that needs debridement and is not recommended to be applied over the granulation tissue. Despite the multitude of benefits, the quality of the evidence is variable.

Silver dressings– should be used when infection is suspected. Has been shown that silver ions have an antibacterial effect in contact with the exudate. Because silver ions are activated by a moist environment, is not indicated to be used in wounds with moderate-to-low exudate. There are some evidence that suggest delay healing if silver dressings are used in acute wounds. Is available as gel, sheets, impregned in alginates, foams and hydrocolloids and can be left in contact with the wound up to 7 days. Silver is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent that is effective against bacteria, fungi, viruses, and yeast. It has also been proven to be active against MRSA and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) when used at an appropriate concentration. Silver destroy bacteria due to multiple mechanisms: disrupts bacterial cell walls, inactivates bacterial enzymes, and interferes with bacterial DNA synthesis. Therefore bacterial resistance has yet to be documented, although reports of isolated Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa have shown resistance to silver in vitro.  Despite the benefits, some articles concluded that is still a lack of evidence about usage of topical silver and silver dressings for treatment of infected or contaminated chronic wounds.

Collagen dressing: are available in different forms such as granules, powders, sheets, pastes, gels. The collagen from these products derived from bovine, porcine, equine, piscean or avian source. Collagen has been widely used in cosmetic surgery, as a healing aid for burn patients for reconstruction of bone. Is the main structural protein in the extracellular space. Is resistant against bacteria and in this way it helps to keep the wound sterile. Platelets interact with the collagen to make a hemostatic plug. Collagen based dressings need a secondary dressing layer to maintain a moist environment. Products that contain collagen promotes angiogenesis and stimulates fibroplasia. Recently, usage of Tilapia skin fish in veterinary medicine and blue shark skin in human medicine for burns were described with promising results.

Silicone dressings– are used mainly in humans to reduce the hypertrophic scar. The mechanism of action of silicone dressings is not fully understood. It is believed that silicone due to occlusive effect, decrease the oxygen of the tissue until anoxia, environment in which fibroblasts cannot have a normal function and undergo apoptosis. In humans has been shown to help reduce trauma and pain. Silicone dressings were tested in rabbits, rats and horses. Silicone dressings are nontraumatic and the contact surface is adherent but just on the skin surrounding, not to the granulation bed. A comparison between silicone dressing and silicone gel in a controlled trial for treatment of keloids and hypertrophic scar. Compared to the untreated controls, all of the measured parameters including scar size and induration were reduced in both silicone and nonsilicone-treated groups. In 2005, silicone dressing was used with good outcomes in horses with exuberant granulation tissue. In 2017, a review of silicone gel sheeting and silicone gel for the prevention of hypertrophic scars and keloids concluded that was statistical significance in the effectiveness of both of them but most of the trials had poor quality with high or uncertain risk of biases.

Borate glass nanofiber – was developed in 2010 by human engineers and is recognized to have regenerative properties on bones and soft tissues due to stimulation of angiogenesis and osteogenesis. Two borate glasse with (1605) or without (13-93B3) CuO and ZnO were studied along with the silicate-based glass, 45S5 for the potential effect on vascular endothelial growth factor. The study demonstrate that silicate glass is inferior to borate glass. Copper and zinc ions together with calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, etc., stimulate the proliferation of human endothelial and osteoblast-like cells, promote angiogenesis, and stimulate vascular endothelial

growth factor secretion. Osteogenesis is encouraged because the fibers convert to hydroxyapatite.


Fig.9 Borate based glass nanofiber. Macroscopic aspect, “cotton-candy” like (left picture) and electron microscopy (right picture).

In 2017, borate glass nanofiber was evaluated for treatment of full thickness wounds in six dogs. The study had many criteria: wound cause and location, type and duration of previous wound management, time to granulation tissue formation, time to complete wound healing, subsequent procedures if applicable, outcome, and complications associated with treatment. With a “cotton candy” aspect and soft texture, the borate glass can be applied to any defect, even in deep wounds can be packed. Is not expensive and did not require hospitalization. A veterinary product was developed and is available (RediHeal) for cats, dogs and horses. Because promotes bone growth, the product can be packed also in the defect which result after dental extraction. After application, the fibers degrades at a controllable rate and release ions.


Wet-to-dry Vs MDR’s


·         Wet to dry bandages: first they overhydrate and after dessicate the wound bed. As

a result, cells involved in the healing process will lose their function. Because is a nonselective debridement form, when wet to dry bandages are removed normal cells (WBCs, macrophages, granulation tissue) are pulled off with the surface contaminants. The environmental bacteria can penetrate the gauze.


Because is adherent, in the time of removal will be not comfortable for the patients due to pain sensation. Small gauze fibers can remain in the wound bed, will act as a foreign body and will extend the inflammatory phase. They are not expensive but if are used as a sole treatment for wounds, the cost may increase semnificatively due to delay healing and daily replacement.


·         Moisture retentive dressings: during the inflammatory phase, support selective


Fig.9 Characteritics of an ideal dressing

autolytic debridement and promote healing because will keep a moist environment. They are nonadherent and nonpermeable for bacteria  so the infection rate is lower in compare with wet to dry bandages. They also require replacement every 3-6 days (depends on the product and the wound appearance) therefore decrease the costs for total wound care. Because MDRs are occlusive or semioclusive in nature, they decrease the pH and oxygen tension in wound and, as a result, WBCs are attracted, angiogenesis and collagen formation are stimulated and inhibit bacteria. MDRs are comfortable  not painfull for the patient when are removed from the wound bed. Also they prevents dessication and necrosis.

There is no dressing that meets all the conditions and cannot be considered that one is better than the other. The aim is to use the correct dressing according to the needs of the wound. Therefore, the physiology of wound healing needs to be understood. As an example, even if gauze (wet-to-dry) have many negative consequences, it can be used for debridement as part of wound management and is very effective but contraindicated in the proliferative phase while calcium alginate (MDRs) is less effective and can dessicate the wound bed when is applied on dry wounds.


Regarding moisture, a simple general rule is considered: exudative wounds need dressing that will absorb the fluid and dry wounds need dressings that will deliver moisture. It is detrimential to assess the volume and the appearance of the exudate each time the bandage is changed. A wound with a favorable evolution will produce less and less exudate with a clear clear aspect.

Alternative therapies


            Wounds have different behavior and the evolution depends on many factors (localization, degree of contamination, size, etc.). In particular situations, wounds may not heal by second intention or they may decrease in size in the time of treatment but in some cases the proliferation may stop. If surgical closure cannot be achieved, alternative therapies may be considered. As an example, vaccum assisted closure (negative pressure therapy), laser therapy or platelet-rich plasma (PRP) should be considered.

Wound management part 1: the healing process and recognition of wound healing stages

51559132_952390804967417_8511078558653743104_nFlorin Delureanu




Section A

The physiology of the healing process

The most largest organ of the body is the skin. The skin acts like a barrier between the body and environement. Composed by 3 layers (epidermis, dermis, subcutis) and associated adnexa, the skin is a complex organ with many functions and properties: thermoregulation, motion and shape, environmental protection, storage (vitamins, electrolytes, fat, etc.), immunoregulation, sensory perception, secretion, excretion, etc.

Following trauma, the skin is the first organ to undergo changes. A wound represent a disruption in the continuity on anatomical structure with deterioration of the physiological function. There are several criteria for wound classification:

–                by the time that has passed since wound production: acute or chronic;

–                by the thickness of the skin layer that has been injured: full-thickness or partial thickness;

–                by the degree of contamination:

·                clean wounds – made under aseptic conditions (surgical wounds), in which it does not penetrate into the chest cavity, gastrointestinal, genitourinary tract;

·               clean contaminated wounds – in which the respiratory, gastrointestinal, or                            genitourinary tract is entered with minimal contamination;

·               contaminated wounds – wounds with a major break in sterile technique, open traumatic wounds less than 4-6 hours old with inflammatory process without purulent discharges;

·               infected wounds – traumatic wounds with purulent discharges or perforated viscera, more than 6 hours old.


After trauma, when the patient shows up in the clinic, it must be stabilized initially. If haemmorage is present, the wounds need to be bandaged with sterile gauze to stop bleeding, and emergency treatment should be initiated according to the patient’s needs. If it is not an emergency and the patient comes to the clinic with an older wound, after obtaining the complete anamnesis and examining the wound, formation of an initial plan of treatment is necessary. Thereby, depending on the type of wound, the approach differs. Four types of wound closure are described:

–                 primary closure, called also healing by first intention represents immediate closure of a fresh wound. This category includes recent traumatic wounds and surgical wounds.

  • delayed primary closure is indicated when the injured tissue have questionable viability or infection is suspected. The closure is delayed 3-5 days in which time the wound is assessed with proper dressings. Also delay closure offers time for proper drainage and the inflammation will decrease. Approximately 5 days after wounding fibroplasia, cytokines and macrophages will protect the wound against infection and closure can be performed. This type of closure is done before granulation tissue formation.

–                 secondary closure is performed after granulation tissue formation. Usually 5-10 days after injury; this type of closure is indicated when necrotic tissue persists and need to be debride many times, when inflammation is prolonged or when signs of infection are still present

.-                healing by second intention represents healing by granulation, contraction and re-epitelisation. This method is applicable for next types of wounds:

·                    moderate to large wounds in young animals that are located on trunk. Kittens and puppies have a fast rate of healing;

·                    wounds located in areas where the closure may create a “tourniquet effect“ (commonly on distal limbs). In this situation the circulation is compromised

;·                    infected wounds and those who presents questionable tissue viability;

·                    wounds that are closed under tension and dehiscence will occur.

How do wounds heal?

Tissue continuity is restored by the healing process. This biologic process begin immediately after injury or incision. Wound healing is a complex process that comprise three phases: inflammation and debridement, proliferation (repair), maturation and remodeling. All these three stages overlap and have a different duration.

Ø              Inflammatory and debridement phase.

After wounding, to avoid exsanguination hemostasis occur. Following the breakdown of blood vessels, endotheline is produced and along with other mediators (serotonin, bradykinin, catecholamines, histamine, prostaglandins) cause contraction of muscle within the vessel walls and hemorage is stopped by vasoconstriction. After 5-10 minutes, vasodilation occur. An increased blood flow to the wound bed and extravasated fluid in the wound will be present. Subsequent vasodilation, leukocyte migration starts (neutrophils and monocytes). At this point the wound will have the classic aspect of inflammation: swelling, elevated local temperature, erythema, pain. In early inflammatory phase the neutrophils predominate and in late inflammatory phase they decrease and monocytes predominate.

The main cells: –endothelial cells: neoangiogenesis-provides oxygen and nutrients to the tissue;

macrophages and neutrophils: debridement, phagocytosis of bacteria

and other pathogens.


  • Proliferative (repair) phase. About 4-6 days later, after wound debridement, the wound enters in repair phase. This stage lasts from day 5 until day 20 but can be longer and depends on many factors: wound size, location, age, health, etc. Four stages are included in the proliferative phase: angiogenesis, fibroplasia, contraction and epitelisation. The aspect of the wound will change in this phase from red to pink and the quantity of exudate will decrease. This phase is predominated by macrophages, fibroblasts, endothelial and epithelial cells. Due to platelet-derived groth factor (PDGF) and transforming growth factor (TGF-β), fibroblasts migrate in the wound from surrounding tissue. As a response to PDGF
    type III collagen is synthesized by fibroblasts. After 7-14 days, TGF-β increase synthesis of type I collagen. Collagen afford strength to connective tissue. There are more than 20 types of collagen. Type I collagen is present in unwounded dermins in 80% and type III collagen in 20%. Finally, due to TGF-β1, fibroblasts are transformed into myofibroblasts and wound contraction begin. Contraction increases with a speed of approximately 0.6 to 0.8 mm/day. As a response to epidermal growth factor (EGF) and TGF-α proliferation of epithelial cells begin. Epitelisation continue until complete epidermal thickness. The growth rate of the granulation tissue is 0.4 – 1mm/ day. The granulation tissue is very fragile in consistency and act as a barrier to infection.
  • Maturation and remodeling phase. In the last phase of wound healing remodelling and strengthening of collagen take place. Care must be taken at the beginning of this phase because the scar tissue new formed is very thin and fragile and need few weeks until will gain a proper strength. Due to a changing in collagen type (only 10% of type III collagen present in the scar tissue) rigidity rise and the matrix becomes more stiff. Though, the final scar tissue will not achieve the elasticity and strength of a normal tissue. The maximum strength will be approximately 70 % – 80%. Usually this phase starts 3 weeks after wounding and continue until 1 year.

Figure 1. Illustration of approximate time of wound healing stages. Inflammatory phase last between 0-6 days,


Fig 1

repair phase 4-25 days and maturation and remodelling phase 21 days to months. Overlapping of healing stages is represented by the green triangles.



Fig 2

  Figure 2. Illustration of cell distribution in the time of healing;


Conditions that delay or impede wound healing


Factors who are involved in this process are grouped into several categories:¨             Host factors: hypoproteinemia (malnutrition); age (wounds in elderly patients have a longer healing time compared to young patients); internal organ disfunctions (Cushing Syndrome- excess circulation of glucocorticoids, liver diseases – clotting factor deficiencies, diabetes mellitus, uraemia, hypothyroidism), obesity, immune disfunction, viral diseases (FeLV/FIV), cancer, coagulopathies, self trauma;¨             External factors: infection, foreign bodies (environmental – grass awns, soil; surgical  metal plates, drains), radiation therapy, long surgical time and hypoperfusion;¨             Medication: chemotherapy, glucocorticoids, NSAID, anticoagulants, cytotoxic solution used for lavage; ¨             Mechanical factors: motion, tension, pressure (from bandage).



Section B


In which stage of healing we are?

In order to choose an appropriate treatment method (closure or dressing) it is necessary to recognize the phases of wound healing. Some specific aspects should be considered: macroscopic appearance (infection, contamination, blood, inflammation), time elapsed from wound appearance, amount of exudate, wound size, tissue viability, wound margins. This section will illustrate wound details in different phases of healing.

Figure 3. Ventral view of abdomen of a cat during     Figure 4. Approximate 1 hour old wound located on

spay, midline approach; This is a surgical clean        the left front leg, between digit IV and digit V. Small

wound.                                                                                amount of  unclotted blood and early inflammation


Fig 3


Fig 4













Figure 5. (a)Lateral view of digit V of  left hind in a 6 years old paraplegic female dog. Healthy

granulation tissue is present 9 days post dressings treatment. Mild exudate was present following the

removal of the bandage . (b)The same pacient 18 days after wounding; a nearby photograph was made to highlight the presence of epithelisation present at the wound edge (black arrows). The white color at the

center of the wound represents the reflection of the camera light. (c) Maturation phase- complete

epithelisation present in day 44 post dressing treatment.


Fig 5


Fig 5


Fig 5















Figure 6. Dorsal view of the right paw of the hind limb in a cat;


Fig 6

The deglowing wound shows necrotic tissue, foreign materials devitalised tissue and mild exudate; High local tempreture was present on palpation. The infected wound was debride surgically, treated with dressings and later a full thickness mesh graft was applied. The cat disappeared from home for 2 weeks.



Figure 7. Left latera view of a 4 years old male Yorkshire beign bitten by a dog; Second intention healing

from the beginning until the end was chosen. Granulation tissue is in the middle followed by epithelisation


Fig 7

and obvious wound contraction after 4 weeks of treatment with dressings.




41768527_2349628575051886_8602568388625039360_nDr Giulia Nadasan

Vet Point Vest



Patient: Ellie

Species: canine

Breed: mix German Shepherd

Age: 9 years


Anamnesis: the dog and it’s owner are very close to our vet practice, they ask for anual hematology and biochemistry exams, abdominal ultrasounds  x-rays just for prevention. In the 19th of September 2018 the owner called beacause her dog was not being herself, she was not eating for 24 h and she thinks the dog is in pain.


Clinical findings: when the dog got to our practice she was lethargic, with pale mucose membranes, tahicardic, dispneic and with an enlarged abodomen.


Blood samples were taken and the results were:

-mild anemia 4130000 mm3

-hemoglobine 9,9 g/dL

-hematocrit 27,2 %

-severe trombocitopenia 52.000 /mm3

-leucocitosis 22510/mm3

-limfopenia 8%

-extended clotting time

-TCR >2 sec

-CPK increased 955 U/L

-ASAT 289 U/L

-ALAT 70 U/L

-Ureea 124 mg/dL


We performed and ultrasound and there was free fluid in the abdomen and after the paracentesis we removed aprox. 300 ml of blood from the abdomen. We suspected an abdominal hemorrage.


Diferential diagnosis:

  • Intoxication with anticoagulant raticides
  • Trauma
  • Internal bleeding: organ hemorrage
  • Hemangiosarcoma


After a few hours of i.v fluids (aprox 2000 ml NaCl 0,9%) to reestablish blood volemia we decided to do a laparatomy.

Thoracid X-rays were free for pulmonary metastasis. At the ecocardiography the heart was free of any mass in the right atrium.


** Note that we did not made that incision, this is how the spleen looked like

Splenomegaly with ruptured spleen was our main concern, we did a splenectomy and removed aprox 4L of free blood from the abdomen. The splenectomy was made with sutures and the attached omentum was removed in bloc. A thorough abdominal lavage was made and the instruments were changed to minimize the risk of metastatic seeding.


*After surgery

A sample of the spleen was sent to the histopathology lab. That night we performed a blood transfusion from a 60 kg Tossa Inu.










The next morning the dog was feeling great, she ate normal, she waig her tail and everything was great.


*next day after surgery


After too weeks our suspected diagnosis was confirmed: Spleen’s red pulp hiperplasia and splenic haemangiosarcoma. The staging could be: T1 (primary site tumor), N1(regional lymph node involvement: mesenteric lymphadenitis 2 weeks after surgery), N0( no evidence of distant metastatis: clear lungs, heart, liver at ultrasound).


Final diagnosis: Visceral Hemangiosarcoma stage II


I also tested cardiac canine troponin I (a marker with high specificity for cardiac injury) at PraxisLab in Budapest to check for miocardial metastatic modifications but the result was normal ( <0,25) .


Treatment: it has been 2 months since the surgery and splenectomy was the treatment of choice at that time.

She received ONCOSUPORT (RX) and a shot of 3 ml of Theranekron (Tarantula cubensis extract) every 5 days.

We finally found Doxorubicine and we started the treatment with the following protocol:

-Doxorubicine 30 mg/m2 = 16 mg/38 kg every 2 weeks for 5 treatments. It does have a cardiotoxic effect but if the dog lives long enough I will continue as much as I can.

-Maropitant (Cerenia) 1mg/kg 2-3 days after chemotherapy.


*2 months after splenectomy

Other drugs that can be used with a antiangiogenic effects are : Masivet, Thalidomide, Palladia.


The prognosis with dogs with haemangiosarcoma treated with splenectomy only is really poor, 2-3 months surviving time after surgery. Even with chemiotherapy the surviving time of 12 months is only 10%. Median survival time with spelectomy and doxorubicine is 132 days.

Surgical removal of the luxated lens including the capsule (intracapsular lens extraction) in a bear

Belica_surgery118Dr Maria Savova

Veterinary Clinic NOVA

Sofia, Bulgaria


Violeta is a 37y.old brown bear form Belitsa Dancing bears park, Bulgaria.

She was suddenly blinded and had an urgent eye check.The ophthalmological examination revealed increased pressure (40mmHg) and displaced lens in the left eye.The cornea was mildly opaque and the lens was with senile cataract. No PLR. The retina was also degenerated resulting in marked tapetal hyper reflexivity.Belica_surgery30 Belica_surgery40

Lens subluxation (posterior) is partial detachment of the lens form the ciliary body, due to breakdown or weakness of the zonules.

We preformed surgical removal of the luxated lens including the capsule (intracapsular lens extraction).

In the “open sky” approach, the superior cornea was incised 120 – 160 degrees using a cornea knife. The lens and its capsule were removed together in one piece through the incision.Belica_surgery93 Belica_surgery100 Belica_surgery110

Hydrodissection was employed for the removal of lens. We left the eye without artificial lens (aphakic).

During the removal of the lens, prolapsed vitreous was determined and we removed it with scissors in the anterior chamber.

Following the irrigation of the anterior chamber, corneal incisions were closed by separate sutures using 8/0 polyglactine.

For the postoperative care, we applied systemic antibiotics for the first five days.Belica_surgery121 Belica_surgery126

7 days after surgery, the eye is calm; there is no secretion or swelling.


Now the bear is in preparation for hibernation and her eye will be examined in the spring.


43715598_336141656947602_6782174039545741312_n(CASE REPORT)



Osteochondrosarcoma is an uncommon tumor that generally arises from the skulls of dogs (cranium, orbit, zygomatic arch, mandible, and maxilla) and can occasionally arise from the pelvis, ribs, and os penis. These tumors have a characteristic appearance on radiographs, CT, and MRI: generally the borders of the tumor are sharply demarcated with limited lysis of the adjacent bone, with a coarse granular density throughout. A popcorn-like appearance with stippled and heavily calcified or ossified regions has been described on survey radiographs.

Clinical signs are generally based on location and extent of the lesion; ranging from a palpable, fixed, and firm mass to pain on mouth opening for tumors involving the mandible and zygomatic arch, exophthalmos with infraorbital lesions, and neurologic abnormalities for tumors involving the cranium.


Fig 2


Fig 1


Fig 3

Cara, a one year unsterilized mallinois female bitch, from the age of 7 months beggin to develop in the fronto-parietal region a globular formation(fig.1-2-3)


.She came to our unity with neurological manifestations, ataxia, deviation, refusal to rise from the bottom, bilateral midriasis.

Blood analyzes where in optimal parameters. After performing the CT, a giant extra and intra-cerebral form was noticed, being the imaging feature of the osteocondrosarcoma. (Fig.4-5)


Fig 4


Fig 5

After consulting with the owner we decided surgery.

It was performed a large, circular craniotomy with a safety margin of one cm. The formation did not adhere to dura mater, only compressing the brain. (Fig. 6-7-8-9)43828104_267060260621234_1089416852607598592_n 43727747_1873646689408833_5453387625761079296_n

T43828915_108324666763855_6959109323293196288_n 43750703_2206611569596014_4590836245717843968_nhe bone reconstruction was accomplished with Collapat, a substrate of bone based on hydroxyapatite and collagen. (Fig.10)


Post operator evolution was good, 48 hours after the surgery the patient was recovered neurologically(Fig11). At six (Fig12)and 12 months post surgery,(Fig.13) Cara feels good, fully recovered.



The rhomboid flap

22264908_689114241295076_1764003733_nFlorin Cristian Delureanu






In plastic and reconstructive surgery flaps have an important place not only for the aesthetic results obtained but also because they can be used to cover an area without producing tension. The flap mechanism mainly consists of moving a piece of skin from the donor site and moving it to the recipient site (primary defect). The rhomboid flap have a big versatility because can be done anywhere on the surface of the body. Filling small and large wounds with tissue similar in texture, colour and thickness is the ideal objective of the flap. This article describes the surgical approach of two cases, one with an abscess and the other with a benign tumor located at the cutaneous level, both of which are approached by the use of the rhombic flap.




A skin flap represent a partial detachment of a piece of skin and the adjacent subcutaneous tissue with its vascular supply intact. All skin flaps have a pivot point or base. Survival of the skin flap is made by blood circulation through its base during the procedure. From this point of view, it is important that the base of the flap be large enough to prevent necrosis.

Local flaps are based on two types of vascularization: the subdermal plexus or a vein and an artery (figure A; right side- island flap).

Classification of skin flaps is based on blood supply, transfer mode (primary motion), location, composition and configuration (most described in human medicine). Depending on the transfer method, local flaps are classified as follows: -advancement flaps: those who advance forward; -rotational flaps: describe a rotation motion (curvilinear configuration) to the primary defect.

Classification of skin flaps is based on blood supply, transfer mode (primary motion), location, composition and configuration (most described in human medicine).
Depending on the transfer method, local flaps are classified as follows:
-advancement flaps: those who advance forward;
-rotational flaps: describe a rotation motion (curvilinear configuration) to the primary defect.



The rhombic flap was invented by a human maxilofacila surgeon called Limberg Alexander Aleksandrovich in 1946. By name, the flap has rhomboid shape with two angles of 120 degrees and two angles of 60 degrees. Depending on the primary defect / lesion pattern which require coverage, the flap angles may change. It is often used in reconstructive surgery of the face in humans: eyelid, floor of nose, alar rim and chin defects with good cosmetic results. This skin flap also called Limberg flap is a transposition flap – the elevated skin will have both advancement and rotation movement when is applied over the primary defect.


How to design the rhombic flap


Whether it is a wound or a tumor, around a defect is drawn a diamond with angles of 120 degrees and 60 degrees as mentioned above. First, the short diagonal that joins the 120 degree angles (BD) must be measured and then extended in the desired direction. The extension (DE) to the outside must have the same length with the short diagonal (BD) and with the sides of the diamond. The next step is to extend another line wich is equal and parallel with the closest side of the diamond (EF). Finally the skin flap is obtained (ADEF).

Figure 1. The sketch of the rhomboid flap.The primary motion of the flap is the motion placed on it to close the primary defect; the secondary motion is the motion placed on the tissue surrounding the primary defect by the flap.

Figure 1. The sketch of the rhomboid flap.The primary motion of the flap is the motion placed on it to close the primary defect; the secondary motion is the motion placed on the tissue surrounding the primary defect by the flap.


Figure 2. Transferring the flap to the primary defect. The direction of rotation of the flap is indicated by the purple arrow. After rotation in point A dog ear will occur (yellow elipse). During the rotation the flap describes a 120 degree movement. The higher the angle, the dog ears will be more prominent. The secondary defect will be closed following the transfer of point F to the initial position of the D point



Figure 3. The final shape of the rhomboid flap. Point D reached point B, point E reached point C and point F reached point D. A is the only point which maintain the initial position.















The surgical defect created can be covered with the rhomboid flap from 4 sides (Picture 4).

Figure 4. The variants of flap usage. The best choice is to select the side with the most laxity because in this way the adjacent anatomical structures will not be disturbed. The flap has a mathematical formula in which all sides are made to be equal.

Figure 4. The variants of flap usage. The best choice is to select the side with the most laxity because in this way the adjacent anatomical structures will not be disturbed. The flap has a mathematical formula in which all sides are made to be equal.










Case 1




Daisy, a six years old female cat of the Maine Coon breed presented with a sebaceous cyst, 2 cm diameter, round shape, locatad on the dorsal lombo-sacral area. The owner says that the cat have a decreased appetite. The pacient was rescued and adopted and was vaccinated just when was young. The cat lives with another 3 cats in the same house, all with the same vaccination status.

General Examination

At clinical examination, apart from the wound, dehydration 6%  and a small buccal ulcer behind the last molar on the right mandible were detected. The patient was initially treated with clindamycin and meloxicam for 7 days but no improvement observed. The cyst was infected, with bad smell, partially covered with agglutinated hair and inside soft tissue necrosis was present.

Figure 5. The initial appearance of the wound, 24 hours prior to surgery.

Figure 5. The initial appearance of the wound, 24 hours prior
to surgery.

After inspection, dead space was noticed under the skin around the wound. One day before the surgery we noticed fever (40,1°C) and dehydration 8%. CBC, serum biochemistry and FeLV/FIV test were performed. Neutropenia (0.15 x 109/L, normal range: 1.48 – 10.29) and hyperglobulinemia (57g/L, normal range: 28-51) and decreased ALKP (<10 U/L, normal range: 14-111). IDEXX Snap FeLV/FIV was negative. The cat was hospitalized 24 hours for fluid therapy and i.v. antibiotic (Cefuroxime-Zinacef). After stabilizing the patient the intervention was performed.




Descripting the surgical steps


The area was clipped and clorhexidine was used for local antisepsis. Sterile marker was used to draw the rhombic shape around the primary defect.

Figure 6. Appearance of the wound after cleaning. Necrotic tissue and pus was present in the middle of the wound;

Figure 6. Appearance of the wound after cleaning. Necrotic tissue and pus was present in the middle of the wound;











Due to the presence of dead spaces   under the skin, the round shape of the primary defect was converted to a rhomboid and the rhombic lines were positioned about 1 cm from the wound margin. In this way the tissue that was not healthy was removed. Identifying the area with the highest laxity is the next step. This was done by pinching the skin around the primary defect. After choosing the appropriate area, the flap that must be transferred was drawn.

The first side of the flap (the extended line outward of the defect) and the second side of the flap (line that is the same length as the first, to the adjacent side of the defect and makes an angle of 60 degrees at the flap apex) were cut and the flap was elevated after undermining

Figure 8. The rhomboid flap is designed. The blue arrow describe the direction in which the flap will be rotated.

Figure 8. The rhomboid flap is designed. The blue arrow describe the direction in which the flap will be rotated.

Figure 9. The primary lesion was excised and the underlying tissues are undermined.

Figure 9. The primary lesion was excised and the underlying tissues are undermined.

Figure 7. The picture illustrates the extension to outside of the short diagonal of the diamond

Figure 7. The picture illustrates the extension to outside of the
short diagonal of the diamond










Skin cuts were made perpendicular with No.10 scalpel blade and and the flap was mobilized with help of Metzenbaum scissors. The surrounding tissues are widely undermined to avoid any tension and the flap is rotated into the recipient site. After rotation, the flap is locked in place by fixing its corners by subcutaneous sutures. The donor site is closed as the flap moves over into the new location. Finally the skin was closed with 4/0 PDX in simple interrupted suture pattern.

Figure 10. Elevation of the flap. Stay suture are used to decrease the risk of flap tip necrosis. This inconvenience usually occurs due to faulty handling during the transfer procedure (usually crushing between fingers).

Figure 10. Elevation of the flap. Stay suture are used to decrease the risk of flap tip necrosis. This inconvenience usually occurs due to faulty handling during the transfer procedure (usually crushing between fingers).

Figure 11. The flap is rotated in the desired place and the first stich is applied on the maximum point of tension. The second and the third stich are placed on the other two corners of the flap (yellow dots).

Figure 11. The flap is rotated in the desired place and the first stich is applied on the maximum point of tension. The second and the third stich are placed on the other two corners of the flap (yellow dots).

Figure 12. Immediate postoperative appearance of the flap. Simple interrupted sutures are used for skin closure

Figure 12. Immediate postoperative appearance of the flap. Simple interrupted sutures are used for skin closure













A common unaesthetic appearance after transposed flap was the “dog ears” at the pivot point. In this situation, dog ear was corrected by excising one triangle along one side of its base.

Figure 13. The aspect of the flap at 48 hours after surgery

Figure 13. The aspect of the flap at 48 hours after surgery

Figure14. The aspect of the flap in the eighth day after surgery. The direction of the hair grow is change because of the rotation.

Figure14. The aspect of the flap in the eighth day after
surgery. The direction of the hair grow is change because of the rotation.

 Figure 15. Seventeen days post surgery. The stiches were removed after ten days. No complicatios were encountered. Is very difficult to distinguish the change of the hair growth direction

Figure 15. Seventeen days post surgery. The stiches were removed after ten days. No complicatios were encountered. Is very difficult to distinguish the change of the hair growth direction













Case 2




Coco, a mix breed male dog, three years old was brought to the clinic because a lump was identified on the skin. Owner reports that the mass was seen some days ago and does not believe it has increased significantly. Also says it makes itching and that the dog often scratch there and bleeds. This was the owner’s only concern.


General examination


No abnormalities were detected after clinical examination except the lump. With a cauliflower aspect, the lump had a small base of implantation and 1,2/1,4 cm in diameter. After palpation of the skin around, no pain or local temperature were identified. FNA and blood tests were recommended before surgery and histopathological examination after. The owner declined for financial reasons the FNA and blood test but accepted the histopathological examination. In this situation, a two centimeter safety margin clearance was decided.


Surgical approach


            Surgical steps along with flap drawing were described above except for asepsis. In this case  iodine povidone was used.

Figure 16. The mass is identified on the left scapular area after clipping; local asepsis was made.

Figure 16. The mass is identified on the left scapular area after clipping; local asepsis was made.

Figure 17. The diamond is designed around the mass; The mid-third skin of the cranial chest was chosen for transfer

Figure 17. The diamond is designed around the mass; The mid-third skin of the cranial chest was chosen for transfer

Figure 18. Sectioning on contour lines.Control of bleeding is done by hemostat forceps

Figure 18. Sectioning on contour lines.Control of bleeding is done by hemostat forceps










Figure 19. The final aspect of the flap; the skin is closed with 3/0 PGA in simple interrupted pattern.

Figure 19. The final aspect of the flap; the skin is closed with 3/0 PGA in simple interrupted pattern.









Histopathological result

               Description: Cutaneous/ subcutaneous mass composed of  chistic masses well delimited by a cheratinized multilayered epithelium with epithelial cells with squamous differentiation oxifiles, mixed with abundant, granular and amorphous keratin; multifocal with the tendency of confluence, inflammatory infiltration with neutrophils, macrophages and epithelial cells is observed. Malignant neoplastic cells are not present in the examined sections.


               Interpretation: Benign follicular tumor – pilomatrixoma with associated granulomatous inflammatory process.


Figure 20. Wiev of the flap 4 days after surgery; small necrosis was noticed on the tip of the flap (green arrow).

Figure 20. Wiev of the flap 4 days after surgery; small necrosis was noticed on the tip of the flap (green arrow).

Figure 21. The aspect of the flap 23 days after surgery; the hair was cut to facilitate flap view. Small crusts are present on the tip of the flap and on the pivot point (blue arrows).Notice the cosmetic scar lines (yellow arrows).

Figure 21. The aspect of the flap 23 days after surgery; the hair was cut to facilitate flap view. Small crusts are present on the tip of the flap and on the pivot point (blue arrows).Notice the cosmetic scar lines (yellow arrows).











Common complication of the flap


  • Hematoma;
  • Bleeding;
  • Flap necrosis;
  • Secondary infection.


Short indications for proper surgical procedure


  • The sides of the rhomboid must have the same length;
  • The sides of the flap must must have the same length;
  • Depending on the shape of the primary lesion, the diamond angles may vary in degrees;
  • Any defect in rhombic shape shows 4 variants in which it can be covered.
  • The lowest laxity region should be chosen and as far as possible so as not to alter anatomical plans.





Dr Fodor Lucian

Lazar Laura¹,    Fodor Lucian²,

¹ʼ²ʼDVM, Veterinary clinic, Happy  Pet Timisoara, Romania


Key words:   inguinal hernia, intestinal occlusion, acute abdomen, enterectomy




An inguinal hernia is a condition in which the abdominal contents protrude through the inguinal canal or inguinal ring, an opening which occurs in the muscle wall in the groin area.

In dogs, inguinal hernias may be acquired (not present at birth but developing later in life) or congenital (present at birth). Factors which predispose a dog to develop an inguinal hernia include trauma, obesity, and pregnancy.

Most inguinal hernias are uncomplicated and cause no symptoms other than a swelling in the groin area. However, if contents from the abdominal cavity (such as the bladder, a loop of intestines or the uterus) pass through the opening and become entrapped there, the situation can become life-threatening.(2)1 2 3 4 5 6










Inguinal hernia may evolve to scrotal hernia when herniated viscera pass down the inguinal canal.The internal, or deep, inguinal ring remains patent in intact male animals.(1)

Inguinal hernias can usually be diagnosed by finding the swelling caused by the hernia on a physical examination. However, sometimes contrast radiographs (X-rays) or an abdominal ultrasound are needed to determine which abdominal contents, if any, are entrapped.(2)


Case  report:


A six year old intact male jack russel terrier,fully vaccinated and dewormed  suffering an episod of  letarghia, voma  and apatia for two days.He followed an symptomathic treatment with painkillers and antispastics from his current veterinarian.

The owner became worried because his symptoms got worse, so he was admitted in our clinic as an emergency after the program hours.


Clinical evaluation

his symtomps included:

-severe peritoneal response

-apatia, lethargya

-medium dehydration

-the left testicle was increased in volume

An abdominal ultrasound was performed, was noticed a decreased intestinal motility, with gas presence.


inghino-scrotal hernia/intestinal occlusion



The pacient was initially rehydrated, after stabilization of vital functions was put under general anesthesia and intubated.Surgical intervention was performed, starting initially with the opening of the affected testicle who was enlarged, coloured modified  and continuing with medial celiotomy(Fig.1).The terminal part of the small intestine was herniated inside of the spermatic cord (Fig.2).The affected part was aproximatly 10 cm long, with modified tissue and with the rupture of the intestine wall. (Fig 2,3,4) .Following this an enterectomy was performed (fig. 5) with termino-terminal enteroanastomosis.( Fig. 6,).The pacient was also castrated.


     After surgery

The patient condition improved very fast within hours he drank water and ate food.He was also very responsive and playful from the first day.He followed five days of treatment with Metronidazol (20 mg/kg/2×1/day).



The inghino-scrotal hernia is a medical emergency and the intervention must be in the shortest time due to life threatening.






  1. Jubb, Kennedy and Palmer’s, Pathology of domestic animals, E Book, vol. II, pg.80

Full thickness mesh graft in a cat with degloving wound – case presentation


Delureanu FlorinCristian

Dr Delureanu FlorinCristian

Veterinary Center Otopeni

Bucharest, Romania




An ample loss of skin with underlying tissue and exposure of deep components (eg. tendons, ligaments, bones) define a degloving injury. This kind of wounds are most frequent seen on the distal limbs, medial tarsus/ metatarsus. The main cause of deglowing wounds is car accident, special when the animal is dragged or pushed by a moving car. In all of the cases bacteria and debris are present in the wound.

Free grafts are described as a piece of skin detached from an area of the body and placed over the wound. There are two tipes of free grafts when we talk about graft thickness: full thickness (epidermis and entire dermis); partial/split thickness (epidermis and a variable portion of dermis). Skin grafts are using when exist a defect that cannot be closed by skin flaps or direct apposition. Two factors influence skin graft survival: revascularization and absorbtion of the tissue fluid.

Case report

A 4 years old female shorthair cat, weighting 3,25kg was presented to our clinic. Before that, the owner was at another clinic for consult and he was disappointed because they recommended euthanasia or amputation of the limb. Besides, the first vet treated the cat with Amoxi+Clavulanic Acid and Nekro Veyxym. The owner said that she went missing for about 10 days.

Clinical examination


Picture 1. Dorsal aspect of the metatarsal wound Deep tissue is affected; low to moderate discharge is present.


Picture 2. Ventral aspect of the wound; Note the big swelling and the holes at the base of the fingers (red arrows)


Picture 3. Deep wound with circular aspect, approximate 1,5cm diameter located near saphenous vein

After a thorough clinical exam we found that all was normal excepting the degloving injury. The back right leg was affected. There was a massive inflammation with infection and a lot of debris on the dorsal surface of metatarsal area and ventral, above metatarsal pad. On the dorsal surface of metatarsal area (Picture 1). Besides, also in the ventral area, another wond proximal to the metatarsal pad and 3 deep holes was identified at the base of second, third and fourth finger (Picture 2). It could be distinguished the chronic aspect. A third lesion was registrated on the same leg, in the medial aspect of the thigh. This wound was deep with a circular shape (Picture 3). We estimated that the lesion occurred about two weeks ago. We register pain and high local temperature after palpation. The cat was stable, normothermic, with normal color on mucous membrane, CRT 3seconds and normal superficial lymph nodes.








Radiograph of the affected back limb


Picture 4a


Picture 4b

Two x-ray views was made to eliminate bone changes or foreign bodies (Picture 4a, Picture 4b).

Picture 4a, 4b- Specialist describe: Suspected slight thickening of phalanges cortical 1 fingers 3-4 and gently bending them. Soft tissue swelling of the tibio-tarso-metatarsian region.










Picture 5a


Picture 5b

After evaluation, the initial recommendation include a good wound management under anesthesia. Before surgical debridment (Picture 5a, 5b), culture was done.

Picture 5a and Picture 5b – Dorsal and ventral aspect of the lesions after surgical debridment


Next, wound lavage was initiated with one bag of 500 ml of worm saline (the most easy way to deliver fluids on the wound is to connect the saline bag with a administration set to the syringe and needle with a 3-way stop cock a large amount of liquid is needed to be effective).


Picture 6. Wound closure by simple interrupted suture.

Finally, this first stage ends with a wet to dry bandage. A primary wound closure was performed for the lesion placed on the medial aspect of the thigh (Picture 6), after intensive cleaning, removal of foreign bodies and dead skin .

Empirically the cat receive Cefquinome until the result arrive and for pain management we administered Tramadol 3mg/kg and Meloxicam 0,1-0,2mg/kg. The cat recover well after anesthesia.




Culture result

One day before performing surgery, we recived the culture result. Streptococcus canis (++++) was identified and was sensible to many antibiotics. Amoxicilin+Clavulanic Acid (Synulox) was initiate for general therapy and chloramphenicol ointment (Opticlor-Pasteur) for local therapy.

Next, a full thickness mesh graft was used on the dorsal aspect of the limb due to the length and depth of the wound and the other wound was left for healing by second intention, both being protected by bandages. In the next 10 day the limb wounds was treated in the same manner. Removal of bacteria, granulation tissue formation and the beginning of epithelization were supported by next bandages as follows: ·

Day 1 – wet-to-dry bandage was used after surgical debridment. (this kind of bandages adhere to the wound and remove the little layer of dead tissue when we take off). Soaked in warm saline 1-2 minutes before removing, they were changed after 24hours one to the other. Cotton gauze was the primary contact-layer of the bandage.

  • Day 2 and day 3

    Picture 7a Fresh Sorbalgon is applied on both wounds. This dressing can absorb 20-30 times its weight in fluid, stimulate fibroblast and macrophage activity.


    Picture 7b Calcium alginate dressing must be changed when the fibres transforms in gel.

– moisture retentive dressing (MDR) – calcium alginate (Sorbalgon-Hartmann) was the primary contact-layer. It is good to use when it exist high exudate like in our patient (Picture 7a, 7b).




  • Day 4,6 and day 9

Picture 8. Hydrocolloid is indicated because he stimulate granulation and epitelisation and have a good autolytic debridment

– moisture retentive dressing (MDR) – hydrocolloid (Hydrocoll-Hartmann) was the primary contact-layer because the discharge decreased (Picture 8).






Describing surgical procedure:


Picture 9. The wound is refreshed by removing the new epithelium formed around the whole wound

Preoperative surgical site preparation: The cat was placed in left lateral recumbency, with the wound exposed. The limb was clipped entirely and povidone iodine and alcohol was used for aseptic surgery. Sterile warm saline 0.9% was use for wound lavage. Meanwhile a colleague prepare the donor site in the same manner- lower cranio-lateral thorax (right side). Almost 1mm of epithelium that has started to grow from the wound edges over the granulation tissue was removed using a thumb forceps and a no. 10 scalpel blade (Picture 9). A perpendicular incision was made right at the edge of haired skin with epithelium. The wound was incised all around and after that the epithelium was removed by advancing the scalpel blade under the epithelium around

the wound. Then, undermining was performed around the wound edges. A fragment of sterile surgical drape was used over the wound to get the exact shape. The drape “pattern” was placed to the donor area.



To maintain the wound moist, i placed over it a cotton gauze moistened in warm sterile saline 0.9% while the graft is transferred.


Picture 10. The donor site-removing the skin; black arrow show the direction of the hair groth.


Picture 11a. Skin from dorsal thorax is advanced


Picture 11b. Simple interrupted suture is used for skin closure.

The direction of hair groth was marked with a black arrow above the donor site so that the direction of the hair groth on the graft will be the same as the hair groth direction on the skin surrounding the wound. After that, the margins of the drape “pattern” was traced on the skin. The skin of the donor bed was incised with No.10 scalpel balde and removed using thumb forceps and Metzenbaum scissors (Picture 10). The defect left after removing the graft was primary closed by undermining and advancing the skin edges with walking sutures using 3-0 monofilament absorbable suture material and finally the skin was sutured in a simple interrupted suture manner using 2-0 monofilament absorbable suture (Picture 11a, 11b).











Preparing the graft


Picture 12. Final aspect of the skin graft after removal


Picture 13. The skin is stretched on the receiving bed so the incisions made in it expand.

The dermal side of the graft was placed on a polystyrene board with a thickness of 10cm covered with a sterile drape and after that we fixed and stretched with 21G needles. The subcutaneous tissue was removed from the graft. Next, made parallel incisions was made in the graft, 0.5-0.7cm long and apart (Picture 12). At the end, the graft was placed on the granulation bed and sutured with 4-0 monofilament nonabsorbable suture in a simple interrupted suture manner. Additional tacking suture was placed to ensure the expansion of the mesh incision and allow the fluid drainage (Picture 13).



Choosing the right bandage after grafting and aftercare


Picture 14. Grassolind is ointment free of medication, broad mesh, air permeable and exudate; impregnated with neutral ointment. Ointment contain petroleum jelly, fatty acid esters, carbonate and bicarbonate diglycerol, synthetic wax.

It is important to use a nonadherent primary dressing. My initial choise was Grassolind (Hartmann), is sufficiently porous to allow easy passage of exudate from the wound surface, preventing maceration of surrounding tissue (Picture 14). The ventral metatarsal wound maintain hydrocolloid dressing (Hydrocoll-Hartmann) as primary layer. After that, a thin layer of chloramphenicol oinment (Opticlor-Pasteur) was used all around both wounds and over the graft.


Picture 15. Note that the “half clamshell” is extended with approximately 1cm toward fingers (red arrow) so the leg does not touch the ground

Over the first dressings was applied 5cmx5cm compress (Medicomp-Hartmann) and a roll gauze was the second layer. After a few laps of gauze stirrups was placed to secure the bandage in place. Extemporaneous half “clamshell” splint (Picture 15) was made from plastic material wich was curved in such a way that the limb was fixed in semi flexion. The splint is a little bit longer than the extremity of the pelvic limb (“toe-dancing” position), thus provide a maximum relief pressure. In the proximal area, under the splint, I put cotton to prevent pressure injuries on the caudal aspect of the thigh. Applied from proximal to distal and with moderate tension, elastic warp was the final protective layer of the bandage and it was secured at the proximal end with tape.





Changing bandages

The bandage was changed in day 1, 3, 5, 7 and 10 post op. In day 10 the suture material was removed from the graft and from the donor site. From day 17 to day 29 hydrogel (Hydrosorb-Hartmann) was used as primary bandage layer and the bandage was changed from 4 to 4 days. In day 29 no discharge was present in the bandage; the wound was completely healed and 0,2-0,4 mm of hair was present in the center of the graft.


Picture 16. Delayed healing on day 45 – epitelization stopped at this level.


Picture 17b. Honey improve wound nutrition, promotes the granulation tissue and epithelization, reduce inflammation and edema. Also it has a wide antibacterial effect.


Picture 17a. DTL laser type is alaser light emitting diode in the red field (wavelength 650 nm) and infrared (wavelength 808 nm) of the light spectrum with next clinical effect: anesthetic effect; decreases edema and inflammation; activates microcirculation; stimulates wound healing; improves tissue trophicity; reflexogenic effect.

A delayed healing occurred at the wound in the ventral region (Picture 16). From day 29 to day 59 epithelization has advanced very hard and granulation tissue has captured an appearance of ulcer (in this time the wound was asepseptic prepared and hydrocolloid and hydrogel was used as primary layer bandage and without the splint). In day 59 the wound was refreshed on the surface with a scalpel blade and laser therapy (Picture 17a) and medical Manuka honey (Picture 17b) was used daily for 14 days. After that, a complete healing was reached.








Illustrating wounds evolution after surgery


Day 1











Day 11


IMG_6873 IMG_6879








Day 28

IMG_4671 IMG_4677







Day 35

DSC09254 DSC09263










Day 49

DSC09686 DSC09689











Day 11 after honey and laser therapy










 Day 16 after honey and laser therapy













Comparing day 1 and after 3 Months













Resection of a chest wall mass- surgical technique and peri-operative analgesia


Dr Vladislav Zlatinov

Corresponding authors :

Dr. Vladislav Zlatinov, Dr. Aglika Yordanova (Clinical pathologist), Dr. Nadejda Petrova (Anaesthetist)


Central Veterinary Clinic

Chavdar Mutafov str, 25 B, Sofia, Bulgaria




Rib tumors are uncommon in small animals. Osteosarcoma (OSA) is the most common (73%). Other types include chondrosarcoma (CSA), fibrosarcoma (FSA), hemangiosarcoma (HSA).

Rib tumors tend to occur in large breed dogs and the usual location is in the costo-chondral junction. Radiographic changes include lysis, sclerosis, or a mixture of lytic and blastic patterns. Intra-thoracic invasion of adjacent pericardium and lung lobes is relatively common, so CT scans are recommended to determine the location and extent of the tumor, planning of the surgical resection, and clinical staging for pulmonary metastasis1.


Chest wall resection is recommended treatment for the rib tumors 2. The surgical approach is the identical to intercostal thoracotomy, but caudal and cranial margins include a minimum of one intercostal space and rib, while ventral and dorsal margins should be a minimum of 2 cm from the tumor.  Because of the large defect present, a need for autogenous and/or prosthetic reconstruction techniques is often necessary. Autogenous reconstruction techniques include the latissimus dorsi and external abdominal oblique muscles, and diaphragmatic advancement following resection of caudal rib tumors 3. Prosthetic reconstruction with non-absorbable polypropylene mesh, alone or in combination with autogenous techniques, is recommended for large defects. Autogenous reconstruction is preferred in humans because of a high complication rate associated with prosthetic mesh, such as infection and herniation. These complications are rarely reported in dogs following chest wall reconstruction with prosthetic mesh. Up to six ribs can be resected without affecting respiratory function in dogs 4.

Thoracic surgery in small animals is considered a painful procedure, resulting in alterations in pulmonary function and respiratory mechanics. Appropriate analgesic protocol may improve outcomes. Systemic administration of opioids and NSAIDs, intercostal and intrapleural blocks, and epidural analgesia are among the most common options for pain management after thoracic surgery in small animals 5.



Case report


A 10 years old male pitbull dog, weighting 24 kg was presented to us. The owners had been to three veterinary consultations before, the chief complaint being lameness at the right front limb. The cause was suggested to be a “lump” on the right thoracic wall. Based on an X- rays study and clinical examination, so far the owners were discouraged to pursue the further surgical treatment, because the procedure was supposed to be too aggressive and painful. The dog was prescribed palliative NSAIDs therapy.



Clinical examination




We did a thorough clinical exam, revealing normal behaviour, good over-all body condition; signs of multiple joint arthritic diseases were found- elbows and stifles decreased ROM and capsules thickening. On the right cranio- ventral thoracic wall we found protruding, egg- size oval mass, widely and firmly connected to the rib cage (Fig.1).






Radiograph of the right elbow revealed advanced elbow arthritic changes.

Fig 2


Additionally, orthogonal thoracic radiographs (+ oblique one) were done, demonstrating large infiltrating mass, with heterogenous lytic and proliferative mineralised pattern, originating at the costo-chondral junction of the 4-th rib (Fig.2).








A fine needle aspiration was done and evaluated (Fig.3).

The pathologist remarks:

“Clusters of  fusiform mesenchymal cells, with obvious signs of malignancy- pleomorphism, increased anisokaryosis and anisocytsosis, basophilia, multinucleated cells . Occasional osteoclasts, macrophages and neutrophils were noted. No osteoid/chondroid was found in the examined material. The tumor was classified as malignant mesenchymal– fibrosarcoma, chondrosarcoma or osteosarcoma.”





A computer tomographic study was accomplished and the mass’s margins investigated carefully. A mineralised tumor centre (from the distal third of the 4-th rib) was found; also soft tissue aggressive expansion in the neighbour intercostal spaces -3-th and 5-th. Typically for the chest wall masses, there was an eccentric growth- the 2/3 of the mass volume protruding into the throracic cavity, extruding the pulmonary parenchyma and contacting the heart on the right side. No lung metastases were noticed on the scans (Fig.4, video 1).


Complete blood work was done and found normal. Including normal Alkaline Phosphatase level, considered favorable prognostic factor.


After a discussion with the owner, a decision for surgical resection was made.



Anesthetic protocol


Premedication with Medetomidine and Butorphanol was used, followed by Propofol induction. The maintenance was sustained by Isoflurane and Ketamin drop in the fluid sack.


Peri-operative analgesia, Anesthetists remarks


fig 5


fig 6


The thoracic wall resection is considered very painful procedure, so a corresponding analgesic strategy was built and applied. A continuous post operative segmental epidural analgesia application was provided. T13—L1 epidural puncture (by Tuohy needle), was done and an epidural set catheter (B. Braun) was inserted till the 5-th thoracic vertebra(Fig.5-6). The catheter was safely attached and maintained for 48 h post op, during the patient’s stay in the clinic. The agent delivered through, was Levobupivacain (0,5 %), one 1ml every 4 hours, including pre op.



After the mass removal, a soaker catheter was sutured at the ribs resection edges; another one was applied between the skin and muscle flap, covering the defect. Both catheters were connected to an elastomeric pump (B. Braun), delivering locally 5 ml/h of 1% Lidocain for 96h (including outpatient period) post operatively.


The rationale behind additional soaker catheters was to suppress maximally the nociception transfer, including the sensation through the non- blocked cervical spinal nerves. Also we contemplated- removal of epidural catheter at the time of discharge, but leaving the delivery pump, providing residual local analgesia.


Cimicoxib (Cimalgex) was prescribed for 10 days post op. No opioids were used in the recovery period.




Surgical protocol (surgeon remarks)




Fig 8

Fig 8

Fig 9

Fig 9



After macroscopic mapping and drawing, a rectangular shaped, full thickness (skin, muscle, ribs and pleura) en bloc excision was done (Fig.7).  This included partial ostectomy of 3-th, 4-th and 5-th ribs. Caudal intercostal thoracotomy was performed first, permitting evaluation of the intrathoracic extent of the tumor. Special attention was applied at the proximal approach to ligate safely the three intercostal arteries and veins. No visceral lung pleural or pericardium adhesion were noticed. Careful electrocautery haemostasis was done at the muscles’ cut edges.  The removed mass was macroscopically evaluated for “clean” margins, and a reconstruction of the large defect was preceded (Fig.8). A double (folded) polypropylene mesh (SURGIPRO®TYCO) was sutured to the wound edges, using simple interrupted pattern (3-0 PDS material). A latissimus dorsi muscle flap was advanced to cover and “seal” the defect (Fig.9). The air content was evacuated with aspirator on the final closure; no chest drain was left in the thorax. Two soaker catheters were applied in the wound; the skin was closed by double pedicle advanced flap technique and simple interrupted pattern (Fig.10).





Post operative care and follow up




Fig 11

Fig. 11

The dog’s chest was loosely bandaged; the elastomeric pump and epidural catheter were securely fixed to the body(Fig.11). I.v. antibiotics and fluid support was continued for 24 hours post op.

Provided very effective local analgesia- the dog revealed excellent comfort immediately after the surgery (video 2,3,4). We paid special attention to any pain signs- excessive vocalization, hyper-excitement, panting, tachycardia, behavior abnormalities, etc. No such were present and the patient started eating the next day after surgery; it was discharged 48 after the procedure. No ambulation deficits were seen with the Levobupivacain application. The elastomeric pump was removed on the 4-th day. Mild to moderate serosanguineous discharges from the wound were present for 10 days after the surgery.

On the 14 days recheck the wound was healed and the sutures were removed; the patient showed excellent clinical recovery (Fig.12).








The surgical excision is considered the first treatment of choice for malignant rib tumors, but a question about the long term prognosis and rationale behind an aggressive surgery could be raised. As mentioned above, the most common rib tumors are osteosarcomas (OS)  and chondrosarcomas(CS). They have quite different prognosis- OS is rarely cured, whereas CS could be cured with surgery alone. Dogs with osteosarcoma that have elevation of the Alkaline phosphatase level have a much lower median survival times 6. Chemotherapy significantly increases the survival of dogs with rib OS- from a few months to about 9.5 months. Roughly survival time is increased 4 times with chemotherapy + radical resection, compared to surgery alone. Chondrosarcomas have a very good chance to be cured with surgery alone with median survival times exceeding 3 years. The other common type -fibrosarcoma and hemangiosarcoma have intermediate metastatic potential between the other two. Survival times ranging from 120-450 days with chest wall resection alone 7.


Dealing with motivated owners, a patient in good general health, with normal AP, and need for moderately large rib case resection size, we found good indications for tumor removal without preliminary histological verification. We suggested acceptable life expectancy in the worst tumor type scenario (the option for chemotherapy was available). While respecting previous vets’ opinions, we took into consideration the stated in the literature fact that dogs tolerate removal of a large portion of the rib cage very well.


Despite all this encouraging decision making facts, we would have fought ethical issues in a scenario we weren’t able to provide sufficient peri-operative analgesia of the patient. Except the ethical side, the pain associated with thoracoectomies may have potentially lethal consequence for the patient cardiopulmonary status after surgery. A thoracoectomy requires a very painful excision, involving multiple muscle layers, rib resection, and continuous motion as the patient breathes. Sub-optimal management of pain has major respiratory consequences. Inspiration is limited by pain, which leads to reflex contraction of expiratory muscles, and consecutively to diaphragmatic dysfunction (decreased functional residual capacity and atelectasis, hypoxemia).Treatment of acute post-thoracotomy pain is particularly important not only to keep the patient comfortable but also to minimize pulmonary complications 8.


In the veterinary literature there are suggestion for various types of analgesia provided after thoracotomies-  intercostal blocks, intrapleural lidocaine, incisional pain soaker catheters9; systemic agents as NSAIDs, opioids, NMDA antagonists (ketamine),etc. There is plenty of space for objective evidence based studies, proving the best analgesic protocol, yet.

In the presented case we applied sophisticated but uncommon noxious stimulus blockage strategy. The thoracic epidural catheter insertion is technically demanding procedure but it is very powerful tool for both intra and post operative pain control 10. Even more, it allows even preemptive pain blockage. So-called preemptive analgesia is intended to prevent the establishment of central sensitization caused by surgery induced injuries. Evidence from basic research has indicated that analgesic drugs are more effective if administered before, rather than after, a noxious stimulus.  Human studies report that the area of post-thoracotomy pain is more discrete and largely restricted to the site of surgery. Hence, any benefit of preemptive epidural analgesia is, theoretically, more apparent in thoracic surgery than in abdominal surgery.


It is interesting if the present tumor or the arthritic elbow lesions caused the primary clinical sign- front right leg lameness. Lameness of the forelimb had been described with costal tumors, located within the first four ribs 11. Possible mechanism is pain translation to the nerves to the limb, mechanical interference with movement or invasion into the muscles of the forelimb. After the surgical excision the owners reported lameness disappearance, supporting the tumor as the real cause.





Excision of malignant chest wall masses could be very successful. It is feasible to achieve clean cut margins; large residual wall defects could be managed with combined reconstruction techniques. Never mind the aggressive character of the procedure, an excellent patient comfort should be achieved with a combination of thoracic epidural and local wound nerve nociception blockage, as in this case.





Just before the submission of this case report the histopathology result was received. It concluded:


Mass, originating from spindeloid to pleomorphic cells, highly cellular. The cells were round, organized in bundles and solid formations. There was moderate to marked anisokaryosis and anisocytsosis; mitotic figures frequently present, multifocally there is osetoid production.


Diagnosis: Malignant pleomorphic neoplasia, suspicious for osteosarcoma.


Long term prognosis:


In the case, no local recurrence is expected because of the wide margins excision. Generally the median survival time (MST) for dogs with rib OSA is 90-120 days with surgery alone and 240-290 days with surgery and adjunctive chemotherapy, and death is caused by distant metastases.  Age, weight, sex, number of ribs resected, tumor volume, and total medication dose do not influence survival disease-free interval 12.


A chemotherapy protocol is already being contemplated:

Carboplatin 300mg/sq.m.; 4 treatments q 21 days (Withrow and MacEwen Small Animal Clinical Oncology,2007)



If available, the long term result and the survival time of the patient will be followed and shared through the journal.

Alveolar-pleural fistula, causing spontaneous pneumothorax in a dog- surgical management

vladi prAuthor:

Dr. Vladislav Zlatinov

Central Veterinary Clinic

Chavdar Mutafov str, 25 B, Sofia, Bulgaria

E-mail: zlatinov_vet@yahoo.com


Referring vet: Dr. Jordan Jordanov



Most commonly the pneumothorax in small animals is caused by trauma 1. It could be open or closed; closed traumatic pneumothorax is often the result of blunt trauma (HRS, automobile accidents, etc.). The mechanism includes a chest compressed against the closed glottis, the airway or lung parenchyma can rupture with resultant air leakage.

When there is no evidence of trauma,  air leakage from the lung parenchyma is termed spontaneous pneumothorax. This is relatively rare but potentially lethal condition in small animals. The most common underlying causes are pulmonary bulla, subpleural blebs/emphysema (68% of dogs); neoplasia (11% of dogs); migrating plant seeds; pulmonary abscesses; feline chronic allergic bronchitis; chronic pneumonia; heartworm disease. Siberian Huskies and large chested breeds are overrepresented for the condition2.

In internal pneumothorax, the trachea, bronchi, alveolar ducts could be the source of leakage. The alveolar-pleural fistula (APF) is a communication between the pulmonary parenchyma distal to a segmental bronchus and the pleural space, while a broncho- pleural fistula (BPF) is a communication between a main stem, lobar, or segmental bronchus and the pleural space3.This distinction is important because the treatment for the two types could vary. Indeed in the veterinary literature there are not too many publications, regarding incidence, therapy, etc. of APF.



Case report


Six years old, large (40kg) mix breed dog was presented to us with clinical signs of respiratory distress. The difficult breathing had started suddenly 48 hours ago. The referring veterinarian had done primary diagnostics- chest X -rays and blood work. The radiographs had revealed bilateral pneumothorax; thoracocentesis has been accomplished several times, every time evacuating more than one liter of air. The owner didn’t report any primary trauma. The day before the onset, the dog was treated with parasite prevention drug-Ivermectin 300 ug/kg , s.c.


Our clinical examination revealed anxiety, tachypnea- frequent (120/min) shallow breathing, distant breath sounds bilaterally, mild fever- 39.5. The patient was over- all hemodynamically stable- normal mucous membranes, strong femoral pulse.

Emergency care


After sedation with Butorphanol + Midazolam (i.v.), thoracocentesis was done at the right 10-th intercostal space. Almost two liters of air were removed.




Orthogonal chest radiographs (just after the centesis), revealed residual pneumothorax, left lung lobe collapse (atelectasis), right shifted cardiac silhouette (Fig.1). Pleural fissures were detectable, but no significant pleural effusion was visible; the lung pattern showed mild signs of diffuse alveolo-interstitial pattern, more pronounced in the right hilus area.unnamed


A serological Diroffilaria test (Anigen, Bionote, Seul, Korea), done by the referral veterinarian went out positive. Nevertheless, the disease was not confirmed by us- the SNAP 4Dx Test (Idexx comp.) and microfilaria blood smear tests came out negative. Larvo/ovoscopic test (done 6 days later) was negative.

Working algorithm


Working algorithm Within the next 8 hours, several thoracocentesis and air evacuations were accomplished, demonstrating the significant air leakage present. The underlying cause was not evident- a spontaneous rupture of a lung lesion (bulla) was supposed. A bronchoscopic or thoracoscopic diagnostic options were not available. A CT study could be used but needed transport to another facility, which was evaluated as too risky. Because of the lack of any signs of lung sealing within 56 hours, an open chest surgical exploration was planned and accomplished.


Anesthetic protocol


The patient was pre medicated with Acepromazine/ Butorphanol combination- i.m., low range doses. After 10 minutes of hyper oxygenation the patient was induced in anesthesia rapidly (Diazepam/ Propofol) and intubated as fast as possible. The maintenance was achieved by Isoflurane gas (2-3%) and Ketamine drop. Positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) of 15 cm H20 ventilation was applied to the patient, using anesthetic ventilator (Midmark Matrix). The hemodynamic parameters- saturation, pulse rate, blood pressure was closely monitored during the whole surgery; no anesthesiological incident was met. The PEEP was adjusted ( up to 25 cm H20), accordingly to the desired lung hyperinflation after chest opening.


Surgical protocol


A standard ventral median sternotomy approach was used. The sternum was osteotomised (with oscillating saw) in the mid line – from the 3-th to 7-th sternebra; later the approach was extended further caudally , leaving intact the end part of the xiphoid process. Two automatic wound retractors were placed cranially and caudally, achieving excellent approach to all chest structures.

A thorough cavity inspection was accomplished. No free fluid or obvious air leakage was found. Chest walls and heart had a normal surface and structure. The lungs had a normal surface, structure and inflation except one collapsed lobe area.  The pathology was found in the caudal part of the left cranial lung lobe-  atelectasis , with lack of parenchyma inflation. On the dorsal surface there were three small (1 mm) confined lesions areas with serosal  surface defects,filled with granulation tissue (Video 1)


A bubble test was accomplished- flooding the chest with warm sterile saline and searching for bubbles during positive-pressure ventilation (up to 40 cm H20). Surprisingly no source of air leakage, including the lesion area, was found.

A second careful  and thorough lung exploration was done, but did not reveal any other areas in question. Finding the visible pathology , we proceeded towards partial lobectomy of the distal collapsed caudal part of the cranial left lobe. One relatively big bronchus and blood vessel were encountered proximally and ligated individually. The resected area was first sutured with  continuous overlapping suture (3-0 PDS). The edge of the incision is over sewn in continuous pattern (4-0 PDS). The sutured sites were tested for leakage again. The lung tissue was separated for histology examination.

Single chest tube was placed before thoracic cavity closure. The thoracotomy was closed routinely, using several full cerclage wires, compressing tightly the osteotomised stenebrae

(Fig.2).vl 5



Postoperative care and follow up


Peri operative analgesia was provided using multimodal approach:


NSAID (Meloxicam s.c.) – pre and post op

Transdermal Fentanyl patch 100 μg (applied 4 h pre op),

MLK (Morphine, Lidocaine, Ketamin)  i.v. infusion for 10 hours post op

Local pleural infiltration- 20 ml Levobupivacaine (2,5 mg/ml) in the chest tube every 6 hours.


Continuous air suction was not applied but the chest tube was tested and air evacuated every 2 hours.


The patient showed fast anesthetic recovery with good pain control after the procedure (comfortable laying in sternal recumbence).


The air presence was monitored carefully. After 2 hours of negative finding, an abundant air accumulation started, just as the preoperative status. With the frequent air evacuation, the next 24 h the patient was respiratory stable with occasion onsets of tachypnea. The chest tube was closely examined, and found adequately airtight.


Additional diagnostics


Significant air leakage (>500 ml/h) was appreciated in the next 24h after the surgery, with no tendency of rate deceleration.  This let us look for a major broncho-pleural fistula with hidden /complex localization. We used an uncommon diagnostic technique- contrast bronchography. After induction in short light anesthesia, the dog was intubated and 3,5 ml Omnipaque (Iohexol 350 mg/ml) were injected through the endotracheal tube, with the head in elevated position. The procedure went uneventfully; the X rays, following 2 minutes of Ambu bag hyperventilation revealed normal bronchial tree, without noticeable pathology(Fig.3).vl 8

Second explorative surgery


Considering, that we didn’t adequately addressed the air leakage, and after a fair discussion with the owner we reluctantly decided to go for a second explorative surgery.


The same anesthetic protocol was used; we approached the cavity through the recent thoracotomy wound. The lobectomy site was explored, showing perfect sealing and early signs of fibrin formation on the edge. The chest tube intercostal passage looked smooth and nice without soft tissue laceration.

This time, all the lung lobes showed normal inflation and again a frustrating lack of any leakage signs. Special attention was payed on to explore the obscure hilus lung areas. Two saline/bubble test were accomplished without result. At the end (after 30 minutes exploration) an air leakage was demonstrated by an accidental left lung lobe maneuvering, while the chest still filled with saline. We found a single, small (0,5 mm) , barely visible, smooth margins (obviously epithelised) opening on the dorsal surface of the cranial left lung lobe (Fig.4 ). Based on the macroscopic findings we diagnosed alveolar-pleural fistula, having stealthy dynamic characteristics- emissive only in specific lung lobe positions, and dorsal body recumbence not facilitating it (look at the discussion section)


A single purse- string  suture (4-0 PDS) was laced around the fistula opening. After the sealing confirmed and final chest lavage the thoracotomy was closed routinely, leaving a chest tube (Fig.5 ).vl 4


Follow up and result


Immediate cease of the air accumulation was evident after the second surgery (Fig.6). Despite the fast recovery, the dog was closely monitored in clinic for 3 days, afterward the chest tube was removed and the dog discharged for home care.vl 6

The histological report that came later was suggesting not specific granulomatous lung parenchyma changes, with no causative agent (parasites/larva) present in the tested tissue.


The dog made full clinical recovery. Its condition was followed 4 years after the thoracotomy surgeries (Fig.7 ).vl 3




In the presented case report multiple discussions could be initiated. They may regard the possible underlying cause of the pneumothorax, the best diagnostic tools for APF, and the best treatment – conservative vs. surgical, sternal vs. intercostal approach.

In our case we were able to confirm the mechanism of air leakage but we couldn’t reveal the exact primary cause of the lesions. Considering the anamnesis (deteriorating after ivermectin treatment) and the morphology of the lesions- small localized, discreet , we supposed parasitic) migration that had caused alveolar-visceral pleural fistulation. The adult or larva forms of some nematodes may have caused this.

There are numerous evidences that  confirm that D. immitis could cause spontaneous pneumothorax (sometimes lethal) 4,5. There are case reports of a Angiostrongylus vasorum causing massive lung lesion and spontaneous pneumothorax6. Ascaris larvae invasion was reported as a cause of spontaneous pneumothorax in humans7.

Despite we suggest parasitic etiology, it is beyond our knowledge and the scope of the report  to evaluate the morbidity potential of the mentioned or other (Capillaria, Oslerus) parasites. Nevertheless the cause, our retrospective interpretation of the lesions showed these: the fistula canals in the caudal part of the cranial lobe (found at first surgery) had collapsed, causing no serious  air leakage, whereas the cranial fistula (found at the second surgery) was covered with epithelium, preventing it’s successful sealing and creating an air valve. It was interesting that despite its small size the APF was capable of causing serious leakage, with no tendency for healing. Indeed, the small size and the normal local serosal surface around made it difficult to distinguish during both surgeries. Another misleading factor was it’s dorsal localization. With the patient laying in dorsal recumbence, a leakage intermittently blocked by compression of the fistula against the thoracic wall was suggested by us (Fig.8-9 ). This could have been the reason for negative bubble tests- no air leakage, unless lobe manipulation and lifting it from the thoracic wall.Untitled-1

In the presented case, we didn’t had the chance to use advanced imaging diagnostics, so we relied on surgical exploration as diagnostic and vl 9therapeutic option, as recommended in many veterinary sources. We were able to manage the case successfully, but met some difficulties and a revision surgery was needed. It is interesting to suggest how useful could be the advanced imaging tools in the diagnose of APF. Increased accuracy (compared to chest radiography) in finding pathologic lung bullas/ blebs have been proven by studies8.9. One study comparing the accuracy of radiography and CT for bulla and bleb identification in dogs with spontaneous pneumothorax found: radiography to be accurate in 16% of cases and CT to be accurate in 80% of cases. In our case, such circumscribed , air filled structure was missing, so it is questionable if the small air leakage source (APF) could be precisely identified. Possibly, just suggestive signs of gross hypoventilation of the cranial left lung could have been found.

Our suggestion is that a bronchoscopy could also be inconclusive, dealing with a fistulation of small alveolar duct, not accessible for examination from the segmental bronchi. It is interesting if a thoracoscopy study could find such small APF. In a 2003 study,10,11 spontaneous pneumothorax, caused by bullas was successfully diagnosed and treated in three dogs using thoracoscopy,

An argument for a more consistent conservative approach- constant air evacuation system for longer period (>4 days), may be raised. Knowledge  about potential causes of spontaneous pneumotorax is important factor when considering surgical versus nonsurgical management. We based our clinical decision on several reports that show the advantages of the more aggressive surgical  management in canine patients . In one study, recurrence rates and mortality rates for dogs with spontaneous pneumothorax treated surgically (3% and 12%, respectively) were lower than for dogs treated conservatively (50% and 53%, respectively) 1,12.

The feline patients look more prone to conservative management (first choice treatment) of spontaneous pneumothorax, because of prevailing inflammatory ethnologies 13.

It is interesting to mention that in human patients there are publications14,15 for successfully treatment of APF by use of blood patch, synthetic hydrogel and valves, delivered endobronchialy. Watanabe spigots (IBV® valves -Olympus Corp., Japan) are specifically designed for reducing air leaks by means of total occlusion of the affected bronchus. For now, no such interventional option has been reported in the veterinary sources.

The surgical approach that we used -a median sternotomy, may be considered as more aggressive and painful than the alternative- intercostal thoracotomy. The median sternotomy is our preferred choice in such cases because it gives a vast access to all lung lobes and other thoracic structures. There are evidences that in dogs, pain, the degree of cardiopulmonary impairment, and complication rates with between two approaches do not differ 16,17, 18. In humans, median sternotomy causes less postoperative discomfort than intercostal thoracotomy19.

We recognize  that a good pain control is a critical factor , when dealing with thoracotomy patients. Post operatively pain may prevent full thoracic wall excursion, reducing the ventilation and causing hypoxemia20. Pain results in catecholamine release, which contributes to vasoconstriction, decreased tissue perfusion and arrhythmias. A multimodal medical approach was used in the case providing haemodynamic stability of the patient within two open chest surgeries.



We would like to stress out the importance of following the medical algorithms in managing such spontaneous pneumothorax cases. In rare cases, the “culprit” / the underlying cause, could not be easily identified even if we know it is there. Still a persistence and systematic approach could be rewarded even in perplexed, frustrating  scenarios




  1. Puerto DA, Brockman DJ, Lindquist C, et al: Surgical and nonsurgical management of and selected risk factors for spontaneous pneumothorax in dogs: 64 cases (1986– 1999). J Am Vet Med Assoc 220:1670, 2002.