Ask the Vet: Growing pains

Clementine Bryson, toy poodle

Clementine Bryson, toy poodle - Credit: Archant

Tiny toy poodle puppy Clementine needed an urgent operation after she fell from her owner’s lap. Christchurch Veterinary Referrals were able to ensure no permanent damage was done

Clementine Bryson X-ray

Clementine Bryson X-ray - Credit: Archant

Weighing a diminutive 3kg, Clementine, an adorable 15-week-old toy poodle, had only been with her new family a few weeks when disaster struck. Pamela Bryson, her owner, recalls: “I was sewing at my machine and picked her up for a cuddle. I thought that I could just pop her on my lap and she would sit there, but I was wrong.” In an instant, she had fallen from her owner’s lap, screamed in pain and was unable to use her right hind leg.

As Clementine had eaten that afternoon, X-rays were taken the following day at her usual vets, Ryder-Davies in Woodbridge. These confirmed the worst – a displaced fracture running through the top of her right tibia (shin-bone), involving the growth plate. The nature of the fracture necessitated an immediate referral to Christchurch Veterinary Referrals.

The growth plate is the area of a bone where cells divide and the bone lengthens. It is therefore imperative that fractures involving growth plates are treated quickly and appropriately to avoid permanent disturbances to normal growth. In Clementine’s case, the situation was made worse by the position of the growth plate, as the fracture would have to be reconstructed in a way so as to counteract the ‘pull’ of the quadriceps muscle. This was done by the insertion of pins and a special tension band wire that loops around the front pin in a figure-of-eight shape. This is actually an engineering principle applied to orthopaedics.

Clementine’s tibial fracture healed well and her implants were subsequently removed. She now uses her right hind leg normally, and through the rapid intervention of Christchurch Veterinary Referrals has not experienced any disturbances to the growth of her leg. Pamela is thrilled with her recovery and reports that Clementine “has had the very best care from both of our vets”.

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