(THIS POST DOES CONTAIN GRAPHIC IMAGES)
On the evening of New Years day Ozzie, a 6 year old border collie, and his family were enjoying
some winter fun in the outdoors. Their evening came to a tragic end when Ozzie was struck by a
snowmobiler who didn’t see him in the dim light of dusk. Realizing Ozzie was severely injured, his family
rushed him into town and to Riverside Small Animal Hospital who was on call for the Kamloops
Veterinary On Call Group.
Dr. Carrigan examined Ozzie’s injuries. The border collie’s right hind leg had been almost totally
de’gloved, (the skin torn off all the underlying structures) he also had two other small puncture wounds. Full examination and radiographs revealed that other than the missing skin Ozzie was otherwise unscathed. The doctor gave Ozzie some pain medication and placed him on IV fluids to help prevent him from going into shock. Once Ozzie was comfortable and stabilized the doctor clipped and cleaned his wound. She then applied a bandage and used a special gel to keep the wound moist until his case could be transferred to the surgeon in the morning.
Dr. Sam Nicol has a passion for soft tissue surgery and Ozzie’s case was transferred to her in the morning. After examining him, she agreed that his injuries were extensive and it would not be easy to
save his leg. Luckily for Ozzie his owner is a veterinary technician and she was prepared to perform the many
bandage changes and ongoing care it would take to save Ozzie’ s leg herself.
Dr. Nicol used several grafting techniques to help the wound heal.
Firstly, she allowed the wound to start the healing process, with help it created a granulation bed covering the deep structures of the leg and providing a base for new skin to attach. For almost a week Ozzie’s wound was cleaned and bandaged again with the special gel to keep it moist. Once the granulation bed had formed Dr. Nicol was able to move on getting skin to cover the hole. An Axial pattern graft was used to cover the upper section of the wound. This required Dr. Nicol to take skin from the abdomen, rotate it, and suture it to the leg. The abdomen of a dog has loose, ample skin that can be moved quite large distances and still be sutured closed.
Dr. Nicol then used a free graft, taking another section of skin from the side of Ozzie’s chest and moving it to the leg without it still being attached to it’s original blood supply. This still left area’s of Ozzie’s leg with no skin. Dr Nicol embedded multiple small sections of skin (punch grafts) into the granulation tissue of these areas. The punch grafts act like little islands of skin which grow outwards to slowly fill in the deficit in the skin.
These grafting procedures took place over a number of surgeries with Ozzie coming in over several weeks for surgeries and bandage changes. Once the doctors felt Ozzie’ s skin grafts had taken and he was
on a good road to recovery his owners were able to continue his bandage care at home.
At Ozzie’s next recheck visit it was determined he would need just one more surgery to help close in areas of the wound that were not fully healing. From here on with diligent bandage management by his owner Ozzie didn’t need to visit us again.
Five months after Ozzie’ s ordeal his owners brought him by the clinic to say hello. Everyone was very
excited to see Ozzie was fully healed thanks to the dedicated work of his owners and the veterinary
team. A huge amount of effort has been put in but Ozzie is now able to enjoy life as a four legged dog probably unaware of just how close he came to amputation.