Bovis ISSN 2398-2993

Constricting foreign body: distal limb

Synonym(s): Distal limb ligature

Contributor(s): Tracy Anderton, Sophie Mahendran

Introduction

  • Cause: trauma - foreign body wrapped around distal limb of animal.
  • Signs: leg wound, inflamed and hot leg, lame.
  • Diagnosis: acute or chronic, superficial or deep constricting wound.
  • Treatment: wound should be cleaned and debrided. Anti-inflammatory drugs, pain relief, antibiotics.
  • Prognosis: good to poor depending on which structures have been involved.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Acute trauma.
  • Barbed wire/wire gets wrapped around the animal's leg, which may be unnoticed. Wire cuts into the skin and flesh and causes deep chronic wound.
  • Any underlying structures are also affected; circulatory vessels, nerves, tendon, ligaments, bone.
  • Protective barrier of the skin has been compromised and infection will probably occur.

Predisposing factors

General

  • Management factors.
  • Allowing animals access to wire/barbed wire - in some states in the USA the use of barbed wire has been banned in areas where domestic or wild animals graze in case of injury.
  • Electric fencing can also be involved.
  • Poor management of yards/cubicles - broken cubicles/access to rubbish.
  • Over-tight hobbles - keep them on the cow for the minimal amount of required time.
  • Over-tight pedometers.

Specific

  • Animals that are compromised in some way, such as being heavily pregnant or lame, may be more likely to get stuck.

Pathophysiology

  • Prolonged constriction of distal limb tissue causes:
    • Vasoconstriction of veins prevents drainage of the limb causing edema, swelling and pain.
    • Vasoconstriction of arteries prevents delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the affected area leading to death of the tissue and necrosis.
    • Constriction of nerves causes dysfunction of limb and lack of response to sensory stimuli.
    • Penetration of the injury causing damage to deeper tissues of the limb such as the tendon and bone.
  • Degloving of the skin may occur if the animal pulls back whilst the constricting foreign body is still attached to an external point.
  • Infection – the compromise in circulation together with the break in the integrity of the skin leads to infection in the area. Bacteria that may be involved include Actinomyces pyogenes, Staphylococcus spp Staphylococcus spp, Streptococcus spp Streptococcus spp, E. coli Escherichia coli and Fusobacteruim Fusobacterium necrophorum. Farmyard conditions will accelerate the infective process.

Timecourse

  • Time dependent: the longer the constricting body is in place the more severe the injury. Pathophysiology progresses with time. 

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Verschooten F, Vermeiren D & Devriese L (2000) Bone infection in the bovine appendicular skeleton: a clinical, radiographic, and experimental study. Vet Radiol Ultrasound 41 (3), 250-260 PubMed.

Organisation(s)

  • The National Trust. Website: www.nationaltrust.org.uk. Information on debate to ban the use of barbed wire on their land.


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