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A late evening walk for Belle and her owner Jonathan over Knutsford heath came to a horrific halt when she was hit by a car on Manchester Road. Angela Carroll saw the accident and helped administer first-aid before kindly whisking her and Mr Metcalfe straight to Knutsford Veterinary Surgery.
Thankfully, Paul and Catherine (Knutsford Vets’ Specialist Soft-Tissue surgeon) were still on-site after a busy day when the patient arrived after 7:30pm. Belle was unable to walk and clearly in a lot of pain. Unwrapping the impressive first-aid dressing, the vets found exposed bone on her hind leg with a large amount of skin and soft tissue missing.
Paul and Holly (one of the lovely nurses) triaged Belle to assess her injuries and prioritise treatment. An intravenous catheter allowed fluid therapy for shock and pain relief to be administered. Catherine tended to her large wound with extensive cleaning and flushing followed by dressings to preserve the tissue health.
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Over the next 12 hours, Belle was stabilised to the point where she could safely undergo a general anaesthetic (GA). This allowed x-rays to be taken of all her limbs to determine the extent of the damage which meant she was unable to even bear weight. Her injuries included a dislocated left hip, a badly broken right hock (ankle) and dislocation of her right elbow. There was real concern that her hock was so unstable that it might need to be fused once the skin defect had healed. A special dressing was applied under general anaesthetic to stimulate healing of the remaining tissues on her hind leg.
The following day, Knutsford Veterinary Surgery’s Orthopaedic Consultant Mike Guilliard replaced her hip using a false ligament called an ilio-femoral suture. He stabilised her elbow by placing an external skeletal fixator (ESF) which is a metal frame that spans several pins placed through the bone itself. A second ESF was used to hold her hock in the best position possible for weight bearing. Amazingly, by midnight of the second day, Belle was back to walking!
Fighting fit once again
Dressing changes every few days were needed to maintain wound health and healing – quite an ordeal for both Belle and her owners. After four weeks, Belle’s elbow ESF was removed, allowing physiotherapy to be started. It made getting around a lot easier for her too. Another four weeks down the line, the moment of truth came when Mike finally removed the second ESF. Belle’s hock had healed remarkably well and all the staff were quite amazed. Although a little stiff after being immobilised for so long, she was able to walk on the leg immediately – albeit gingerly!
So after 4 months, 3 broken legs, 2 external skeletal fixators and a large wound that had over 20 dressing changes before it healed completely, Paul was able to sign Belle off just in time for Christmas. All that remains from such severe trauma is a small scar on her back leg. Incredibly, Belle and Jonathan are back to enjoying their training runs together in preparation for his triathlons!