02 May 2012
This month's star pet is Reggie, a 12 year old domestic shorthaired cat who belongs to one of our own members of staff; Jane.
Reggie is an independent character who likes nothing more than lurking around the cow sheds on the farm where Jane lives, however he recently returned home limping on his right hind leg.
On examination by the veterinary surgeon it was soon apparent that Reggie (who is usually a very stoic cat) was very uncomfortable indeed on this leg and it was thought likely that he had damaged his cruciate ligament in his stifle (knee joint) - an injury more commonly seen in dogs. To allow a better examination Reggie was sedated, examined when sleepy and then x-rayed to check for any other obvious problems.
Reggie's stifle surgery and recovery
As he was more relaxed under sedation it allowed a better examination of the leg and it indeed appeared that he had damaged his cruciate ligament - fortunately the x-rays showed no other damage. It was decided to treat Reggie conservatively with pain relief and cage rest - small dogs (or cats) with partial cruciate tears can be managed in this way and it was hoped this would avoid the need for surgical stabilisation of the damaged ligament.
The stifle (knee joint) is a hinge joint that moves only backwards or forwards in one plane. The range of movement is largely controlled by two bands of fibrous tissue that cross over within each knee joint - these are known as the cruciate ligaments.
Damage is commonly caused to the cranial cruciate ligament following a twisting injury (for instance when running at speed and then suddenly changing direction) - as majority of the bodyweight is then rapidly transferred through one knee. Once the ligament is stretched or torn the joint becomes unstable making weight bearing uncomfortable. Small pieces of cartilage within the stifle known as menisci can be damaged at the same time as the ligament and usually the best option is to examine the joint and surgically repair any damage found.
Reggie stayed at the Practice for two weeks on cage rest - being at home would have proved too much of a temptation for this rather independent character to escape and get back to his old ways. Two weeks after the injury he had improved and his stifle was more stable but he was still very lame.
It was decided it would be necessary to surgically explore the damaged knee joint, to treat any cartilage damage and surgically stabilise the stifle. The problem would be Reggie's independent character - he would need careful post op care and we all suspected Reggie wouldn't appreciate that!
On the morning of the operation Reggie was placed onto intra-venous fluids to support him during the anaesthetic. Once his right hind leg was clipped, cleaned and prepared for surgery, the veterinary surgeon made an incision in the skin and performed a lateral arthrotomy (where the knee joint on the outside aspect of the leg is exposed). Once the interior of knee joint was visible Reggie's torn cruciate ligament was visible but it was also noticed that he had damaged his menisci (cartilage) which was likely to be the reason why he was still lame. The damaged meniscus was trimmed and the knee joint was flushed with sterile saline to remove any residual debris. It was decided that as Reggie is quite a big cat, it would be wise to stabilise the stifle joint using a suture outside the joint which mimics the action of his own cruciate ligament. An hour later and Reggie was back in his kennel recovering from his operation and was provided with strong pain relief. He was kept in overnight and allowed home (on cage rest) the following day with further medication.
Reggie was brought back to the practice after only being at home a day - true to character he decided to make a bid for freedom and ran off after bursting out of his cage! He's now being cage rested at the Practice again - more securely than can be achieved at home! He is doing well after his surgery and we are hoping that he will only need to be on strict rest for a further week and then a gradual return to normal exercise can be introduced. This will be welcome news for Reggie, who is not enjoying his confinement - at all!!