Caring Quality Service
160 Main North Road, Papanui, Christchurch
Northlands Animal Hospital
Science DietNorthlands Animal Care Hospital
Braveheart Award Braveheart of the Month - Zuuka

History

Figure 1

Zuuka was a friendly, well natured cat with no previous medical problems. Zuukas mum came home one night after basketball training to find Zuuka in the mouth of TWO pitbull terriers outside their property. Zuukas mum bravely fought off the dogs (despite the serous injury they could have caused to her) and immediately gained veterinary attention.

On presentation, Zuuka was aware of his surroundings but terrified. He had an open wound to the right side of his chest. His heart rate and breathing rate were faster than normal, and he was breathing with his mouth open so he was placed in an oxygen chamber for 10 min. The oxygen he was breathing in this chamber was 100% compared to the 20% we all breathe in normal room air.

He was then given some pain relief and intravenous fluids were started to help his heart circulate blood efficiently to all his organs. The one open wound exposed muscle, so this was flushed with sterile saline and bandaged to prevent further contamination and broad spectrum antibiotics to help prevent infections. He was then transferred to the emergency clinic for overnight supervision.

Diagnostics

Dogs are very good at causing CRUSHING injuries so just because there is no outside wounds doesn’t EXCLUDE internal injuries to organs and tissues.

Figure 2

Radiographs were taken of his chest and abdomen. A large hernia on the left side of his abdomen was seen, the last rib on the left hand side was fractured and there was some free air under the skin.

Radiographs were taken of his chest and abdomen. A large hernia on the left side of his abdomen was seen, the last rib on the left hand side was fractured and there was some free air under the skin.

Surgery

Due to crushing injuries sustained from such an attack, its imperative to investigate all organs to assess damage, this involves a procedure called and exploratomy laparotomy. Once Zuuka was opened up, there were large blood clots on the surface of the liver and spleen. To add to the already growing list of problems poor Zuuka was facing, his Diaphragm had ruptured also!

The diaphragm is a piece a muscle that separates the heart and lungs from the abdomen.

Diaphragmatic hernias can be caused by:

  1. trauma such as hit by cars, fights, falls etc
  2. congenital (born with it)

Sometimes such hernias are not picked up for several years after the accident!

The fat and liver lobe were removed from the chest cavity and the diaphragm was then sutured back in place and all the air surrounding the lungs was removed by placing a special needle into the chest and draining this to allow the lung to re-expand.

Figure 3

The muscles of the body wall were sutured back together and several drains were stitched in place to allow fluid to consistently drain from the surgical sites, as can be seen in (figure 1 & 2) this extent of damage caused major bruising to Zuuka's abdomen.

Close monitoring after surgery was required, especially the breathing rate, as there was a chance he would require further air drained from his chest.

The first 24-48 hours after a diaphragm repair are very CRITICAL. Wound breakdown of the skin and muscle can occur several days after the accident also.

Outcome

Zuuka survived the surgery and is getting better day by day. It is now one week since his surgery, (figure 3) so things are looking up.

Zuuka, we are very proud of you, your bravery and will to live is outstanding! You truly are a Braveheart!!!