Exotis ISSN 2398-2985

Ferrets

Limb fracture repair: external coaptation

Contributor(s): Agata Witkowska, David Perpinan

Introduction

  • Immobilization of the limb can be used to repair simple fractures with minimal displacement.
  • Allows for stabilization of fractures before and after surgical repair.
  • Can also be used to treat luxation and subluxation.

Uses

  • Simple limb fractures.
  • Where the fracture has minimal fragment displacement and there is >50% cortical contact after reduction.
  • Luxation of the distal limb.
  • Surgery is of a high risk to the patient.
  • Surgical repair is cost prohibited.
  • Size of the patient and bone thickness prohibits surgical fixation.
  • Underlying pathology is present making the animal a poor candidate, eg metabolic bone disease.
  • External coaptation may also be possible in fractures and trauma of some of the long bones.
    • Radius or ulna:
      • Ideally only one of the bones would be fractured.
    • Distal femoral fractures.
    • Carpal and metatarsal injuries:
      • These are rarely reported in ferrets.
      • Ligament trauma is a concern in these injuries as it may lead to medial and lateral instability of the joint.
    • Elbow luxation:
      • This is a common injury in ferrets.
      • Open reduction and internal stabilization are often needed.

Advantages

  • Inexpensive.
  • Quick procedure.
  • Easy to perform in most cases.
  • Little materials needed; basic bandages will be suitable for most cases.
  • Can sometimes be performed anesthesia free: analgesia should always be provided.

Disadvantages

  • Bandages and splints can be difficult to apply on small patients:
    • Slip easily.
    • Can be traumatized by the animal.
    • Can become easily contaminated.
    • Frequent changes may be needed.
    • If applied incorrectly ischemic necrosis may occur.
  • Limb may not regain full function.
  • The affected leg may require further treatment or amputation if the fracture does not heal.
  • Immobilization of limbs in skeletally immature animals can lead to joint deformities.

Requirements

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Preparation

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Procedure

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Aftercare

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Outcomes

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Prognosis

  • Dependent on site of the fracture.
  • Simple, noncomplicated fractures: good.
  • Long bones: guarded.
  • Fractures with joint involvement: guarded.

Further Reading

Publications

Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Ritzman T K (2002) Ferret orthopedics. Vet Clin North Am Exot Anim Pract 5 (1), 129-155 PubMed.  
  • Dunning D (2002) Basic mammalian bone anatomy and healing. Vet Clin North Am Exot Anim Pract 5 (1), 15-128 PubMed.
  • Helmer P J & Lightfoot T L (2002) Small exotic mammal orthopedics. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Exotic Animal Practice. 5 (1), 169-182 PubMed.
  • Pollock C (2002) Postoperative management of the exotic animal patient. Vet Clin North Am Exot Anim Pract 5 (1), 183-212 PubMed.
  • Williams M S (2002) Orthopedic radiography in exotic animal practice. Vet Clin North Am Exot Anim Pract 5 (1), 1-22 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Zehnder A & Kapatkin A S (2012) Orthopedics in Small Mammals. In: Ferrets, Rabbits and Rodents. 3rd edn. Quesenberry K & Carpenter J. Saunders, USA. pp 473-474.


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