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HELP-treatment of broken femur leads to severe abcesses

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

I'm new to this site, and haven't been able to figure out the search tools. So, I figured I'd start a new thread.

I have a cat that got a stress fracture of her femur. The vet tried to fix it with an external fixator. Long story short, not only did my cat bend the pins, they got severely infected. The vet ended up pulling the pins before the femur healed, and wanted to cut off her leg. I'm not opposed to amputating her leg. I just was concerned about timing. She was running a temp of 104 and the infection was really bad. I told the vet that I would really rather wait and try to heal up the infection and see what happened with the leg. She was not eating much and lost alot of weight on top of everything else. I was afraid that in her weakened condition, with the amount of infection, she would not make it through surgery.

She quit eating totally, and I had to tube feed her and give her sub Q fluids for a while. She is now eating and drinking on her own, and starting to gain a little weight. HOWEVER, the abcesses do not seem to be resolving. Am I beating a dead horse, trying to clear up this infection, when in the end, I'm going to have to have the leg amputated anyway??? Has anyone ever dealt with a amputation associated with osteomyelitus (bone infection)???

Any help or comments would be appreciated. I've been dealing with this for over 2 months now, and I'm just at a loss. Everytime I think the leg is finally healing and looking better, it gets hot and swollen, and an abcess opens up. She is still on antibiotics!!! She was on Clavamox for 18 days before I switched her to antirobe. She has been on that for 20 days now.

I'm starting to think I made the wrong decision and should have just gone ahead with the amputation.

Any ideas???
post #2 of 11
I would get a 2nd Opinion just to make sure it is the right thing to do.
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
I'm in a very small town, and there aren't alot of options. There isn't even a vet in my town, I've been taking my animals to the next town over. I could go to another town, but I wasn't really happy with that vet, so that is why I switched to this one. One of the downsides of country living, I guess.

I usually do alot of research on-line. I just have never dealt with post surgical abcesses before. I guess I was wondering if anyone has ever had to deal with them, and how long it took them to heal???

She is actually acting better, and the leg looks better than it has since this whole mess started. I just thought maybe we would be nearing the end of this whole thing sometime soon!!!
post #4 of 11
Let me ask catwomen her husband works for a Vet.
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
The research I did on the broken leg indicated that pre-antibiotics, vets usually treated a broken femur with confinement and rest for 6-8 weeks, and the break usually healed with little complication. The biggest complication was that the leg sometimes healed a little shorter than the other one. After the complications I had with the external fixator, I wish I had never taken her in. A little shorter seems a much better outcome than the loss of the entire leg.

I started doing research on abcesses, and found that alot of cats suffer from abcesses following a bite wound. It seems that the saliva in a cats mouth harbours a bacteria that when injected into soft tissue, via the other cats eye tooth, very frequently developes into an abcess. It is an anareobic bacteria that thrives after the wound site closes. That is when I made the switch to the antirobe. It is the antibiotic of choice with bite wound abcesses. I figured you could equate the pins that where moving in and out of her leg with an eye tooth, and everytime she licked it, she was infecting it with these anareobic bacteria. As soon as the entrance wound closed, the bacteria started to flourish. The Clavamox just wasn't working on those anerobic bacteria. I do think the Antirobe is helping, unfortunately, I think the abcess just got enourmous during the 2+ weeks of clavamox therapy.

It keeps opening up and draining in different places, five different sites so far. I have been flushing with hydragen peroxide initially, to flush out the gunk, then letting it drain and I thought heal. I really think that it is just one big abcess, and I have to keep it open so that it can heal with oxygen present.

BUT, I am worried that the infection might have spread to the bone, and that the fracture just isn't going to heal. In my reading, this is like the worst possible thing that can happen. Very difficult to resolve. I've never heard of anyone who has ever dealt with this, and I can't find much info about it.
post #6 of 11
My friends Husband says to remove the leg because the infection can kill her. I just talked to her on Messenger.
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
I'm going to take her back in to the vet tomorrow. That way, I'll find out whether the infection is in the bone, whether the fracture is healing and whether or not we should remove the leg and just resolve a bad situation.

post #8 of 11
I am not a vet, but I agree that amputation is a must at this point. Bone infections, which is most likely the source of the chronic abscesses, are almost impossible to get rid off.

There is very little likelyhood that break will heal even if the infection is cleared at this point. Plus the longer you what the increased likelyhood that your kitty may become septic (infection getting into the blood stream) that is a highly fatal condition.

I had a three legged kitty who had a similar situation. Had an open compound fracture of the femur. Was set, bone grafted and external fixation device. Despite two separate bone grafts and no infection the bone never healed and she had to have the leg amputated at the hip.

She could run, jump, climb and at age twelve learned how to catch mice.
I wish I had the leg amputated sooner and didn't put her through so much trauma.
post #9 of 11
I hope it goes ok.
post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the info, and sharing your experiance. I actually feel much better about the possiblity of amputation. I don't know if the infection is to the bone yet, and I don't know if the bone has knitted together yet, either. An x-ray should show osteomyelitus if it is there, and will also let us know if there has been healing.

The thing I feel good about at this point is that she is actually eating, drinking, and standing to eat. She purrs when I pet her, and she actually has a little bit of meat on her bones. At the point she was at, I could not feel any muscle between the skin on her other back leg. So, if she goes in for surgery, I am not so worried about her making it through the surgery. I am starting to feel like you, though, I almost wish I had done the amputation from the get go. Femeral fractures, especially high ones are very hard to heal. It is really hard to get the joint stablized at the hip and knee through splinting, so surgery is almost always needed.

I'll let you know what happens.

Thanks again!
post #11 of 11
Originally Posted by mews2much View Post
I would get a 2nd Opinion just to make sure it is the right thing to do.

I haven't had any experience with a situation like this, so I don't have any advice to offer. I hope everything turns out okay though!

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