Posted By: Martin - Vet

Cosmo and his broken leg

Having a young pet can put you through a range of emotions, much like having kids. It’s exciting but hard work. They can cause you immense amounts of stress, but you can’t help but love them to bits. Cosmo, this week’s case, is no different. As a young kitten his family adored him. But when he came home one day with his leg at a slightly odd angle, they couldn’t help but worry.

Cosmo rushed back into his owners’ house late one Sunday, after spending a few hours outside, with one back leg lifted and at an odd angle. Naturally, his owners worried, and so phoned our out-of-hours emergency line for advice. It appeared that Cosmo was less concerned than his owners were, and seemed quite happy to be back at home and rest. On this occasion, as he seemed so settled and comfortable, it was arranged that we would see him first thing the next morning.

Cosmo had a settled night and was still pretty relaxed when we saw him for his appointment the following morning. However, there was no ignoring the fact that something was very wrong with his leg. Whilst there were no skin wounds, his foot was angled in the wrong direction and this appeared to originate from the bottom of his shin bone. Whilst Cosmo was being remarkably brave it was obvious to all that he needed an x-ray to assess what exactly had happened to the bones in his leg.

With some pain-relief on board, Cosmo had his x-rays, and they confirmed what we suspected. Cosmo had indeed broken his leg. The x-rays were able to show that the break was actually through the bottom of his shin bone in his growth plate - the region where the bone growth occurs in a young animal. The bone in the growth plate is softer than the rest of the bone, due to the growth taking place there, but it hardens later in life when bone growth is completed, when the growth plate is said to have closed. As such, Cosmo’s fracture was one seen only in young patients as the soft bone is more susceptible to breaking when traumatised.

The fracture was in a complicated site with only small fragments of bone, which would make surgical repair tricky – securing implants to those small fragments would be difficult. And it was important that the repair allowed for continued healthy bone growth. However, as Cosmo was so young, his ability to heal well and quickly was in his favour. His owners were keen to do whatever was needed and so a plan was made for Cosmo to have surgery.

On the day of his surgery Cosmo was anaesthetised and then incisions were made on both sides of his leg. The fracture was identified and a probe was placed into the fracture site to lever the bone fragments back into the correct position. Once back in position two pins were placed, one from either side, that crossed the broken area of bone and provided stability. Once in place the skin wounds were sutured and x-rays were taken to check that the positioning of the bone and pins was suitable. Finally, a bespoke light splint was made for Cosmo, and was secured with a light dressing. This would just ensure his leg was kept as stable as possible over the next couple of weeks, while the fractures started to heal. After his complicated surgery Cosmo recovered from his anaesthetic and seemed just as happy and content as he had before.

Cosmo recovered well from surgery, and then the most difficult part of his treatment began -

trying to keep an inquisitive, lively cat rested to allow his bone to heal! This started by keeping Cosmo in a cage but as the weeks passed he started to come out into a small room and the bandage on his leg became lighter before eventually being fully removed. After just over a month, and with Cosmo very much wanting a resumption of normal activities, his leg was once again x-rayed to confirm it had healed. The x-rays showed good healing which allowed us to safely remove one of the pins which was causing a little skin irritation. Thankfully for the owners this meant that Cosmo could, gradually, have more freedom to finally get back to his usual exuberant routine.

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