Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Circular External Skeletal Fixator (CESF): Day 1 Post Surgery

Taj's post-operative radiographs confirmed that the fixator was positioned properly and that there was good anatomic alignment. Success of a fixator surgery is largely dependent on the post-operative care of the owner. The most important post-surgical instructions are 1) being stringent with exercise restrictions and 2) keeping the pin sites clean and sterile. Undue stress on the implants can breakdown the repair. 

Taj must keep the fixator on for at least 12 weeks - likely up to 16 weeks. During the first month of recovery, he must have severe movement restrictions (only for basic functions). Taj can go outside for elimination purposes only (5 minute then 10 minute bath room trips - up to 4 times per day). Taj must spend the remainder of his time in an exercise pen, in a crate, or sitting with me on a leash. 

Taj will likely not put much weight on the leg for the first 1-2 weeks. Weeks 3-4 he should start putting some weight on the leg - using it every couple steps. The fixator helps work by transferring the weight from the in-tact bone above the break site to the in-tact bone below the break site; thus, allowing the break site to help while stabilizing the rest of the leg.
Mr. Taj in the back of SUV on the Ride Home

Close-Up of Leg 1-Day Post-Surgery

An Exhausted but Relieved Mom and Taj
When I picked up Taj, I was expecting for the worse, but was ready to see the "Franken-leg." However, when he was brought out by the technician, it really did not look that bad! The leg was swollen of course from the surgery - especially at the wrist joint. When Taj had the splint on initially (pre-surgery) there was some swelling and fluid retention at the elbow joint and lower shoulder - although this swelling was now gone. The leg was a pinkish hue with some bruising (a lot of this was from the break itself). The pin sites were very neat and clean and there was some discharge (clear and some blood) from most of the pin sites.

Taj came hopping out on three legs - holding up the fixator leg and had no trouble with mobility in this fashion. He was relieved to see me and to get home! Luckily for me once I placed him in the back of the SUV (with help from the technician), he simply laid down and went to sleep and stayed sleeping for the entire trip home. Although I was alone for the trip back, I would highly recommend that you pick your dog up from this type of surgery with another person - that way one of you can drive and the other can watch and check-back on the dog. Taj is fairly laidback and was exhausted so this was not a problem for me, but could be with other dogs. A dog would be ok in a crate post-op from this kind of surgery, but it is most comfortable for them to be able to lay down completely on their side with their surgery leg up - which can be a challenge in a crate with larger breeds.

Rumi Happy to See his Brother Come Home
I look exhausted in these photos because I was! We have a tough road ahead the next couple of months, but Taj is home safe and we are on our recovery journey.
Chris, Dave, Cindy, and Liza wish Mr. Taj a Speedy Recovery!
My co-workers made Taj these cute "Get Well" cards. They came to visit a couple days after the surgery to check in on the both of us. I made sure that Taj had constant 24-hour supervision for the week following his surgery.

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