Lapis ISSN 2398-2969

Limb fracture

Contributor(s): Livia Benato, Anna Meredith

Introduction

  • Cause: the combination of light-weight skeleton and underlying osteoporosis of many pet rabbits means that fractures are a common problem. Trauma, improper handling and dropping are the most common cause of limb fracture in pet rabbits.
  • Signs: acute onset lameness following trauma. Skin lesions and wounds due to open fracture.
  • Diagnosis: physical examination, palpation, radiographic examination.
  • Treatment: conservative, external coaptation, external/internal fixation, limb amputation depending on type and severity of fracture.
  • Prognosis: good if presented early post-trauma.

Print off the Owner factsheets It's an emergency and Health insurance for your rabbit to give to your clients.

Clinical tip
Question: What treatment options should I consider for limb fractures?
AnswerClosed fractures can be repaired as for the cat or dog; conservative, external coaptation, external/internal fixation, limb amputation depending on type and severity of fracture.

Presenting signs

  • Acute onset lameness.
  • Skin lesions and wounds due to open fracture.
  • Due to the 'preservation reflex' of all prey animals the rabbit may not show visible evidence of pain.

Geographic incidence

  • High incidence of fox or dog attacks in rabbits housed outdoors.
  • House rabbits accidentally trodden on by owners when underfoot.

Cost

  • Hospitalization of the rabbit.
  • Radiography (pre- and post-surgery and follow up).
  • Orthopedic surgery - all orthopedic procedures in the rabbits must have a careful cost analysis discussed with the owner.
  • Many fractures are both comminuted and contaminated and need extensive treatment prior to surgery.
  • Surgical repair will necessitate repeated check up consultations.
  • Cost of implants, splints and dressing changes.
  • Analgesia and antimicrobials.
  • Referral to an orthopedic specialist may be necessary for comminuted distal tibial fractures (this is becoming more of an option now with insured rabbits).
  • Complications of repair are common, as rabbits are prone to osteomyelitis Osteomyelitis.
  • If cost is a problem, salvage amputation Limb amputation should be discussed as a possible option.

Special risks

  • With comminuted open fractures the risk of osteomyelitis is very high.
  • Lengthy orthopedic procedures also carry an anesthetic risk so speedy technique is required.
  • The rabbit needs to be stabilized prior to surgery to reduce the risk related to general anesthesia.

Cause

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to purchase a 30 day trial, or Login

Diagnosis

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to purchase a 30 day trial, or Login

Treatment

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to purchase a 30 day trial, or Login

Prevention

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to purchase a 30 day trial, or Login

Sequelae

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to purchase a 30 day trial, or Login

Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers
  • Recent references fromPubMed andVetMedResource.
  • Knudsen C S & Langley-Hobbs S J (2010)Spontaneous femoral capital physeal fractures in a Continental giant rabbit. Vet Rec166(15), 462-464PubMed.
  • Carrillo J M, Sopena J J, Rubio M, Redondo J I, Serra I & Soler C (2005)Experimental use of polyamide bands in combination with intramedullary pinning for repair of oblique femoral fractures in rabbits. Vet Surg34(4), 387-392PubMed.
  • Hillyer E V (1994)Pet rabbits. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract24(1), 25-65PubMed.
  • Pead M & Carmichael S (1989)Treatment of a severely comminuted fracture in a rabbit using a Kirshner-Ehmer apparatus. Case report. JSAP30(10), 579-591.
  • Terjesen T (1984)Bone healing after metal plate fixation and external fixation of the osteotomized rabbit tibia. Acta Orthop Scand55, 69-77PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Capello V (2006)Small Mammal Orthopedics.In: Proc BSAVA Congress. pp 209-211.
  • Kapatkin A (2004)Soft Tissue Surgery.In: Ferrets, rabbits & Rodents: Clinical Medicine & Surgery.2nd edn. Eds: Quesenberry K E & Carpenter J W. Saunders. pp 221-230.
  • Slatter D (2002)Textbook of Small Animal Surgery. Vol 2. W B Saunders.
  • Hillyer E V & Quesenberry K (1997) Ferrets, Rabbits and Rodents.In: Clinical Medicine and Surgery. W B Saunders.
  • Brinker W O, Piermattei D & Flo G (1990)Handbook of Small Animal Orthopedics and Fracture Treatment. 2nd edn. W B Saunders.


ADDED