Coba's late night beach adventure
It was was after bed time, Coba was in the yard one minute, her mum and dad asleep inside, and two hours later a nightmare phone call from the RSPCA alerted them that their beloved pup was at the after hours vet with some major injuries. One of the most scariest and longest car ride down to the vet to see our little girl.
Coba had jumped their 6 foot fence and headed down to the beach, unfortunatley not rembering her road rules: disaster struck! Thankfully the driver called the right people, who got her to the Vet Emergency Centre on Anzac Hwy, and thus probably saved Coba's life.
Coba had broken her two left legs, and not just one break but multiple.
After Coba was transferred to me (Dr Ian Hogben), she went into orthopaedic surgery immediately. Her x-rays clearly showed a severely fractured left hind shin bone (tibia) and fractures through both the radius and ulna bones just behind her wrist. These fractures were of a particular type known as Salter 1 Breaks as they were through the distal growth plates of these leg bones. If they are not reset properly, or if they were too badly dmaged during the accident, Coba would end up with a deformed and shortened left front leg!
To repair the fore leg, I needed to 'reduce' the fractured bones so that they were in their normal positions, and then keep them stable by inserting a pair of pins.The strength of the contraction of her muscles, coupled with the fact that the end of the broken ulna is a cone shape that fits neatly inside the inverse hollow cone of the distal ulnar bone fragment, meant that once the bones pieces had been manipulated back into their normal position, as long as the radius was kept firmly stable with the pins, then no pins are needed for the ulna repair.
The pins are inserted at the top edge of the wrist to avoid them passing through the joint and causing more damage. Note that the longer pin bends up into the hollow medula of the radius and this added tension/force provides further stabilising pressure.
The plating of Coba's tibial fracture was more complicated because the muscles had contracted making re-alignment and stabilization difficult. Because of the angles of the fractures, I angled the screws away from any actual fracture lines and into more solid pieces of bone for greatest strength.
AFTER I had completed the surgery and took post-Op X-rays, I was surprised to note a HAIR-LINE fracture had now opened up further down the tibia. I was relieved to note that I had enough screws through and lower down to adequately stabilize the fracture - otherwise I would have had to have gone back into surgery and replace the bone plate with a longer plate!!!
Note that once I had placed the bone plate and NINE bone screws, the fibula is well aligned and does not need a pin.
Coba healed well ... the pins from her foreleg needed removal several weeks later, but the hind leg bone plate and screws remain in her forever. You can see her here on a stretcher immediately after surgery with both legs bandaged.
Her foreleg needed to remain in a splint for several weeks as the small pins used are not strong enough to support her weight and would have snapped as soon as she tried to use the leg. A splint and padded bandage provided her wi this added stability such that she could 'clobber'around the house! Coba 'dodged a bullet', as they say, by surviving the car accident ... AND having the driver be so responsible as to call the RSPCA. AND having such wonderful parents (owners) who had no thought but to have Coba put back together again!