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…

My first credit test, bones, and the flying mouse… (Day 17)

horse thoracic limb skeleton

Today is probably the most intense day of my week with both my Anatomy lecture, my physiology practical and then my anatomy practical packed into these 6 hours! I managed to start the day well today with coffee at home and cereal for brekfast. I actually am so grateful for living so close to uni as compared to Hartpury I can go from bed to campus in just 30minutes where as previously I had to worry about bus times making it closer to 2 hours.

Now in the Anatomy lecture we started looking at the bones, types of bones, and bone construction which was pretty cool. Then we started looking at the different parts of the thoracic limb. Basically the lecture was looking at diagrams which was pretty dull however something that needed to be done.

After this lecture it was time for physiology and we’d been promised hands on practical animal restraint. We had mice and rabbits (they had problems getting a cow for us sadly 🙁 ) however in the end mice and rabbits were plenty to start with. Being a gentleman I let the ladies go first, and trying to chase the mice round the box to grab a tail it would seem they got a little aggitated. Once they had a mouse the next step was to scruff it, at which point the mouse decided it was war and turned round and sunk its teeth into the human finger! So having a chunk outta the first person, the other mice wanted blood too and so ensued a game of don’t get bitten as the accident book and antiseptic came out! I managed to grab a mouse without injury to either party, though I have to say scruffing it did feel a little mean at first until it turned and tried to bite me.

Next up was rabbit handling, and being on the other end of the line it was my turn to go first. I’ve always been taught to pick a rabbit up by supporting it under the thorax and front legs and then supporting the read end. In this case I was supposed to scruff the neck and then pick it up by supporting the read end. These rabbits were not just normal rabbits, these were albino rabbits with bright red eyes, looked really devilish! However I got away with a light scratch which I was way pleased with as I’ve not really had much experience with handling animals.

We were then informed that next week we would actually be taking blood from the rabbits ears. So we went over blood collection procedure and then one of the group walked through it practising on an apple. With that Physiology was over, definately one of my interesting practicals, though I did hear later on one of the young ladies got bitten and flicked her hand with the mouse still attached by reflex causing the mouse to fly across the room (the mouse was unharmed though she bled for ages). I have it on very good authority that mice bites tend to bleed a lot so my biggest lesson today was not to get bitten by a mouse….

Time for Anatomy practical and my first ever credit test. Stupidly I volunteered to go first, and with nerves and being blindsided by questions on bones that I had not revised to I ended up with a B. Over here the grading works:

A = 90% – 100%
B = 80% – 90%
C = 70% – 80%
D =  60% – 70%
E = 51% – 60% (minimum pass mark)

I was slightly gutted at getting a B, however getting one early on is probably better than later as it means I will be pushing myself to work even harder! Next week we have to know the different regions of the thoracic limb (the arm) and also the interspecies differences.

horse thoracic limb skeleton
Thoracic limb skeleton of the horse

Now each bone has around 20 – 30 different areas where muscles attach, or of specific interest in terms of movement or positioning and from the Scapula down we now have to memorise these for the credit test next Thursday.

Since I have been here I have been invited to eat with several different people, so tonight took the opportunity to cook for those that have cooked for me. Using the cooker was interesting as the knobs are all on backwards so the numbers have no relation to the temperature of the position it is in. I probably spent ages waiting for potatoes to boil on a plate that was not even turned on so dinner was around 40 minutes late. The apricot chicken dish that I cooked did go as a success though! With people from Hungary, Iceland, England, Scotland and Slovakia it truly was an international dinner.