Missing Chester found with large wound

Chester is a 2 year old Chinchilla who first presented to Vetwest after being missing for some time with a large open wound in his right armpit. The wound was caused by getting his foreleg entrapped in his collar. On examination there was a bed of granulation tissue covering the wound, and the wound itself was embedded with hair and superficially infected. Besides the wound, Chester was healthy and very hungry after being missing!

Chester was started on a course of antibiotics to resolve the superficial infection, however, whilst the infection resolved, the antibiotics did not make a difference to the healing of the wound. Chester was admitted for surgery in which the wound was sutured closed. However, the location of the wound under the arm (in the axilla) made it susceptible for the repair to breakdown. This is frustrating and is due to many factors including:
  • the fact that the axilla is a ‘high movement' area and every time the cat walks tension is placed across the wound
  • the thin skin in the armpit area
  • any bacterial infection and/or hairs present in the wound
  • the chronic granulation tissue that is present, which has a very poor blood supply
  • some systemic viral infections [Feline AIDS (FIV) and Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV)] can also impede healing
Chester's wound broke down twice after initial attempts at primary closure. Chester's owner was very understanding of all of the aforementioned complicating factors and consented for Chester to undergo yet another surgery. This surgery would involve major reconstruction of the elbow skin fold to allow Chester's arm to move freely within the skin without putting any undue tension across the surgical wound.

Before surgery, Chester was viral tested for FIV and FeLV, which came back negative. The surgery was then performed in which all of the old chronic granulation tissue was excised and the wound edges trimmed back to where the skin was much thicker. A fold of skin was created around the elbow for Chester's arm to move in. A drain was placed in the wound and an Elizabethan collar placed so that Chester could not lick or traumatise the area.

Chester's wound all healed now
Chester was kept quiet and confined. The wound was cleaned daily until the drain was removed. Two weeks following the surgery the stitches and the Elizabethan collar were removed, to which both Chester and his owner, Jody, were grateful!

Collar injuries are not an uncommon injury in cats, so please be careful and ensure that your cat's collar is secure and not too loose.

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