Lapis ISSN 2398-2969

Limb fracture repair: external fixation

Contributor(s): Anna Meredith, David Perpinan

Introduction

Use to repair fractured limbs.
  • It can be used in combination with internal fixation.

Print off the Owner factsheet Caring for your rabbit before and after surgery to give to your clients.

Uses

  • Fractured limb Limb fracture (humerus, radius, ulna, femur, tibia).
  • This is the technique of choice for most rabbit fractures especially in the distal limbs.
  • It is the only satisfactory method of repairing comminuted distal tibial fractures adjacent to the tibiotarsal joint.

Advantages

  • They provide rigid stability, minimal exposure of the operative site and implants can be adapted for the smaller breeds and young rabbits.
  • External fixation also encourages post-operative weight-bearing and reduces surgery time.
  • It also removes the need for bandages, which the rabbit can chew.
  • Fractures without complications heal in 6-8 weeks.

Disadvantages

  • Rabbit bone is very brittle and shatters easily. Fissures and iatrogenic new fractures can occur during surgical repair. This is particularly common in giant breeds and rabbits with osteoporosis (due to lack of UV light or a diet deficient in calcium).
  • Potential for infection, leading to osteomyelitis around implants.
  • Potential for the rabbit to chew on implants or bandages.

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

  • Can be varied from good to poor depending on the type of fracture.

Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Pead M & Carmichael S (1989) Treatment of a severely comminuted fracture in a rabbit using a Kirshner-Ehmer apparatus. JSAP 579-591 WileyOnline.
  • Terjesen T (1984) Bone healing after metal plate fixation and external fixation of the osteotomised rabbit tibia. Acta Orthop Scand 55 (1), 69-77 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Bojrab M J, Waldron D R & Toombs J P (2013) Eds Current techniques in Small Animal Surgery. Teton NewMedia.
  • Hillyer E V & Queensberry K E (1997) Eds Ferrets, rabbits and rodents. Clinical Medicine and Surgery. W B Saunders.
  • Slatter D (1993) Textbook of Small Animal Surgery. Volume 2. W B Saunders.
  • Brinker W O, Piermattei D L & Flo G L (1990) Handbook of Small Animal Orthopaedics and Fracture Treatment. 2nd edn. W B Saunders.


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