Going back to rabbit surgery… When it gets bloody (Day 574)

Rescue Kestrel with suspected West Nile Virus

Today’s Diary entry is sponsored by Pet Hooligans

Well today I am exhausted, the travel is catching up with me as I’ve not a chance to sleep properly yet with early classes both days. Today has been a rectors day which is when classes are cancelled because of the student conference where students present their research. Most of this is in Slovak so is simply not accessible to me so I decided to make it a clinic day instead.

My day started with restraining rabbits for blood samples which left me with massive scratches up my arm. After this we had a kestrel brought in by a member of the public that had found it, because it was shown symptoms we decided to do a blood test to look for West Nile Virus which is becoming a growing problem in birds here.

Rescue Kestrel with suspected West Nile Virus

I then did the autopsy of a rat that had died after a femoral artery anastomosis, I was looking at the surgical site and possible signs of thrombus (a clot moving to other parts of the body).

I then went to take the sutures out of the rabbit that became my surgical patient last week, and found that there had been wound breakdown which hadn’t been noted whilst I was away. For some reason here every single electronic device I have got a flat battery however I took the rabbit back into surgery to do a further skin resection.

Now although theoretically a simpler surgery it got a lot more interesting when I cut and the rabbit started to bleed. I know the theory around haemostasis (control of bleeding) yet this was the first time I needed to do so. My mouth went dry, my heart started racing and I was worried for a moment even though I knew there were no major vessels in the area I was cutting. I got the bleeding under control and then continued, another lesson learned and instantly more cautious about what I was cutting.

Finishing the up the resection I removed a lemon shaped section of tissue nearly 3cm wide, so with such a large hole considered my options for closing the skin. In this case I decided to place subcutaneous sutures between the skin and muscle layer to relieve tension before I then closed the incision with simple interrupted sutures. I have to say that my suturing is getting a lot better and faster, the suture line was evenly spaced, skin had good opposition and my tails were short.

I also decided to place a drain fashioned from a latex glove exiting through a opening below my suture line because of the amount of dead space. I’ve now got the next 10 days of post-op care twice daily to ensure that this wound heals correctly…

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