Sunday, 31 March 2013

Something Missing?

What never ceases to amaze me is how animals cope with injury, far better than us humans. Today I found Penelope the cat who had been hospitalised from the night before. Her injury? Well She was missing her tail of course!



Her Owner returned home to find Penelope in the utility room covered in blood, and her tail was literally sat on the swing bin. On further investigation Penelope's tail had 'sloughed off.' Her owners rushed her to the practice where she was stabilised overnight ready for surgery the next day.
I was amazed when I came in that morning to see a wide eyed black cat of the loveliest nature and hear the story of her escapades the night before. We got her out of the kennel ready to place her catheter in for her general anaesthetic. It was at this point that I first saw the extent of her injuries, quite gruesome really. Her tail had 'sloughed off' meaning the hair, skin, fat and muscle layer had all been torn off leaving only the vertebrae and nerves remaining. It didn't feel right at all when I restrained the cat for her intravenous catheter as her tail still curled around her body we all commented on how she looked like a skeleton cat from 'The nightmare before Christmas.'

After she had been anaesthetised I was given the task of clipping her up for surgery, to be honest I don't think anybody wanted it. It felt so wrong having to hold the exposed tail whilst clipping up at the base of it, strong stomachs really are needed when being a vet nurse! Once clipped we and had to clear away all the debris, we did this by flushing the wound and skin flaps with sterile saline. The cat had certainly made the incision for us, but this was going to be tricky surgery as we were unsure if there was going to be enough skin to close the wound.

Once in theatre, the cat was placed onto a blood pressure machine and pulse-oximeter to monitor her vitals, whilst a 'hartmanns' drip was also hooked up to her. The vet started by preparing the wound, removing dead non viable tissue and tying off major blood vessels. She then required the bone cutters to cut through the tail vertebrae as high up as possible, this cat would not be left with much of a stump that's for sure. The remaining tissue, muscle and fat was then stitched over the stump and the wound was closed. Luckily there was just enough and not to much tension was placed on the wound!

I recovered the cat, monitoring her vitals whilst she came around. She did fab and after about 30mins she was fully round and sitting up fully recovered from the GA. She looked so content with her new 'non tail' and after a few hours we were giving her lots of fuss. She went home that same day and her owners were so happy! We all suspect that she had been in an RTA because her pad and nails were all scuffed, we can only imagine that after being caught by the car she managed to get home and then....removed the tail herself. Apparently even though she was in such a bad way she even put up a fight when the owner tried to place her into her cat carrier to come to the surgery = one super strong cat!

I love the mix that veterinary nursing can bring, not only did we do this op today we also had: a dog dental that needed 12 teeth removing, I discharged this dog to the owner, I had numerous nurse clinics to complete including several puppy clinics and then of course the task of cleaning up, packing kits and generally preparing for the next day! All in a days work eh, I don't think I could ever have an office job ;)!

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