Case of the Month- Thoracotomy

fluff 2Case of the Month- Thoracotomy

Fluffer Nutter presented to River Road Veterinary Clinic as an emergency in August of last year. Her owners found her outside and she was clearly injured, distressed, and having difficulty breathing. A radiograph showed that she had several broken ribs and a massive amount of trauma to her chest cavity. Further examination revealed that she had extensive bruising and puncture wounds likely the result of being attacked and shaken by a dog.

Fluffer Nutter’s prognosis was very grim. Her lungs were not functioning due to the trauma and her situation was critical. Fluffer Nutter’s owners decided to pursue surgery even though they knew her chances for survival were not great. Upon opening her chest cavity to perform the thoracotomy it was immediately discovered that the damage was even worse than initially thought. Though her lung tissue was remarkably intact, most of her ribs were broken and the intercostal muscles that hold them together were severely damaged. Dr Pinello, Dr. Melanson, and several other members of the RRVC staff were in surgery with Fluff for more than two hours. Although Dr. Pinello was able to suture her chest cavity back together the major concern now was that she had very limited space in her chest for her lungs to expand.

Fluffer Nutter woke up from surgery very well but still had a very long road ahead of her. Despite cleaning her chest cavityfluff 1 thoroughly during surgery, over the next several weeks she battled a severe infection. She received several different antibiotic treatments under the skin as well as through an IV.

In addition to antibiotics, she was given pain medication and anti-nausea medication. Fluffer Nutter’s next battle was that she was refusing to eat anything. It is imperative for cats to eat regularly as they can get fatty liver disease if they do not eat for several days. Fatty liver disease (Hepatic Lipidosis) can be deadly.

Since Fluffer Nutter continued to refuse food, Dr. Pinello and her veterinary technicians placed a naso-gastric feeding tube. This red tube is kept in place with skin staples and goes through the nose directly to the stomach. Fluffer Nutter received a critical care liquid food every few hours around the clock.

After continuous feedings, blood work, radiographs, monitoring, fluids, medications and more than three weeks in the hospital Fluffer Nutter was finally sent home! During her time in the hospital her family came to visit her every day. Due to Dr. Pinello’s great medical care and the continuing support and dedication of her family Fluffer Nutter has made a full recovery and is still going strong more than one year later!

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