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Bob's broken foot

Bob was referred to Woodcroft from another local veterinary practice for treatment of a broken foot following a road traffic accident. All four metacarpal bones in his left forepaw were shattered and displaced. No other injuries were immediately apparent and Bob had surgery 2 days after the injury. The metacarpal bones are the long bones in our hands. You may remember David Beckham’s broken metatarsals (the analogous bones in our feet) ahead of the 2002 football World Cup!

When just one or two metacarpal bones are broken they are naturally splinted by the other intact metacarpal bones and the prognosis for healing with just a support dressing is good. When all four metacarpals are broken and markedly displaced, the outcome with splinting alone is guarded. Surgery to re-align the bones and bring the broken fragments into contact not only improves the prognosis for complete healing, but prevents malunion (where the bones heal abnormally in the wrong place) or non-union (where the bones fail to heal). Surgery was performed to realign the metacarpal fragments using 0.9mm stainless steel pins. These pins were implanted within the central canal of each metacarpal bone, acting as internal splints (see post operative radiograph). In addition, a support dressing was used for four weeks after surgery until signs of bone healing were evident.

As if Bob’s broken foot wasn’t enough for him to deal with, at the four week recheck, the owner mentioned that Bob had been sick a few times. A large, mobile abdominal mass was found during the subsequent clinical examination. Surgery was performed to investigate and remove this mass which turned out to be a dead piece of spleen. It appears that Bob’s spleen had been severed in two during the road traffic accident and one half of his spleen had lost its blood supply and had died off. Dead tissue stimulates a localised sterile inflammatory reaction which must have been uncomfortable for Bob. Fortunately the prognosis for Bob is very good and he is making an excellent recovery.

Pre operative x-ray of Bob's foot.

Post operative x-ray of Bob's foot.

8 weeks post op. x-ray of Bob's foot.


After an x-ray at 8 weeks Bob was signed off and can return to normal activity. The pins will most likely stay in his foot for the rest of his life.

Finally, thanks to Bob’s owners for allowing us to share his story.

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