The Veterinary Centre

Henley and Twyford

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Case Notes: Freddie: Chocolate Labrador in Road Traffic Accident
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Although his treatment is still on going Freddie deserves to be Patient of the Month for all that he has been through.

Freddie’s story started in mid July. He was brought into the surgery after having been involved in a road traffic accident – he had been hit by a 4 x 4!

He was in a tremendous amount of pain and was showing signs of shock. It was apparent that he had damage to his hind quarters – he was unable to stand and had diminished reflexes and nerve function.

The first thing we did was give him warmed intravenous fluids for the shock and administer pain killers. When animals are in the degree of pain that Freddie was in we give a combination of drugs administered intravenously via an automatic syringe pump – this ensures a continual dose of the drugs and keeps pain to a minimum.

When Freddie was stable we x-rayed him. These revealed the true extent of his injuries – he had numerous fractures to both sides of his pelvis which would require surgical repair. Surgery was planned. We ordered the appropriate implants.

Freddie’s general anaesthetic and operation lasted nearly eight hours and his fractured pelvis was painstakingly put back together again. Although there were complications during the anaesthetic he coped reasonably well with them.

His recovery was deliberately kept slow – we still had him on the intravenous painkillers and a sedative so that he was not able to try and do much. For the first few days Freddie was closely monitored and kept as comfortable as possible. We catheterised his bladder so that he would not soil himself, prevented pressure sores developing, managed his wounds, kept his medications going and provided him with lots of TLC.

A few days after surgery - and the real hard work began. We had to teach Freddie to get up and walk again. We enlisted the help of a chartered physiotherapist who came in and assessed him and created an exercise regime in order to get Freddie’s hind legs working again. This involved lots of passive manipulations, stretching, flexing and massages. We had a TENS machine. Used three or four times a day this sends a tiny electrical current through the muscles which makes them contract. This aids the muscles in regaining some strength. Eventually we got Freddie up with the aid of a towel and he started to take a few steps and move his legs better.

We brought in a special orthopaedic harness, which we called Freddie’s “magic knickers” to help us to help him. All was going well, Freddie by this stage was on reduced doses of painkillers, was relatively comfortable and bright in himself. His physiotherapy was going well and he was allowing us to do more and more in the way of exercises etc. He was even able to go on his first swimming lesson.

Swimming is great for this type of situation as the water completely supports the weight of the dog and this encourages them to move their limbs. The first lesson went really well. Freddie was only in the pool for five minutes or so but he had exercised well. He came back ‘shattered’. He had a really good nights sleep that night!

A few days later he went on his second lesson. All seemed ok initially - but over the next day or so Freddie went back to being in increasing amounts of pain. He was depressed, reluctant to move, wouldn’t go outside. Worst of all was that we couldn’t seem to control his pain and couldn’t work out why!

In late August, when Freddie had been with us for five weeks, a decision was made to refer him to the Royal Veterinary College in London. After extensive tests and an MRI scan they detected a hairline fracture in his lumbar spine, not visible in the original x-rays. It was possible that this had ‘shifted’ at some point when he was being lifted or as he was swimming and so had impinged on a spinal nerve causing him extreme pain.

Freddie underwent more extensive surgery and now has more ‘metal work’ holding his fractured vertebrae together. As I write this, he is still at the RVC - and doing really well. He is up and walking and can even manage to cock his leg again! We expect him to be discharged in the next week or so. We can’t wait for Freddie to come walking through our front door!!


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Henley Vets and Twyford Vets
The Veterinary Centre: 271 Reading Road, Henley-on-Thames, RG9 1EL - Phone 01491 574490
Also at Twycombe Lodge, Loddon Hall Road, Twyford, RG10 9JA - Phone 0118 934 0259