A technique for management of bite wounds of the thoracic wall in small dogs

Ron Shahar*, Merav Shamir, Dudley E. Johnston

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Bite wounds of the chest wall in small dogs can extend into the thorax and can be associated with severe damage to chest wall muscles, ribs, and lungs. Two major problems associated with the management of these wounds are lack of sufficient muscle tissue for chest wall reconstruction, and difficulty draining the extensive dead space created in the chest wall. We describe a simple method to overcome these problems. The bite wound areas were surgically explored and all devitalized soft tissue was debrided. The pleural cavity was explored, intrathoracic injuries repaired, and a thoracic drainage tube was placed. Ribs in the injured area were stabilized in anatomic position by means of heavy gauge sutures passed around pairs of adjacent ribs, thus creating a scaffolding for soft tissues. Viable muscle and subcutaneous tissues were apposed as much as possible and the skin closed over the defect. Eleven small dogs were treated using this technique. All dogs had severe injuries to the thoracic wall muscles and eight dogs had multiple rib fractures. There was no evidence of chest wall instability in any of the dogs after surgery. Nine dogs survived the injury and were reevaluated 3 to 32 months after surgery. All were clinically normal. One dog developed wound infection and pyothorax, caused by insufficient debridement of injured muscle tissue, and died 10 days after surgery. A second dog died 24 hours postoperatively of undetermined causes.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)45-50
Number of pages6
JournalVeterinary Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1997


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