Ginger is an exceptionally sweet 9-year-old Havanese who was presented to the West Hills Emergency Service after falling out of a van window, landing on a sewer grate, and possibly being hit by a car. Ginger’s owners did not witness her accident, but brought her in for evaluation once they saw she could not bear weight on her right hind limb.
Our emergency veterinarian, Dr. LeBars, noted that Ginger had significant bruising and swelling of both of her hind limbs and along the underside of her belly.
Radiographs (x-rays) showed multiple fractures along both sides of Ginger’s pelvis (see picture 1). The x-rays also showed Ginger had air/gas trapped underneath the skin of her broken pelvis. This is called subcutaneous emphysema.
The air/gas could have been introduced from “outside to inside” (air from the environment becoming trapped in a wound secondary to the trauma), or from “inside to outside” (gas leaking from an ruptured internal organ that passes through a tear in the body wall–the layers of muscle and tissue that separate the abdominal contents from the skin). The latter scenario represents a critical emergency and can be life-threatening.
Once she was stabilized, our board certified veterinary surgeon Dr. Hirshenson, evaluated Ginger. He recommended a CT scan of her abdomen and pelvis to better delineate the extent of her fractures and to further examine the cause of the air/gas seen on the radiographs.
The CT scan revealed multiple pelvic fractures including a left ileal-wing fracture and bilateral ischial and pubic fractures). Fortunately, Ginger’s body wall was found to be intact, eliminating an internal cause of the air/gas seen under her skin.
Despite her multiple fractures, restoration of the structural support of her pelvis required repairing only the left ilial wing with a plate and screws (see picture 2). With the help and dedication of the staff at West Hills (and Ginger’s owners) she progressively gained strength and at the time of discharge was able to walk comfortably on her own!
Nearing 2 months post-surgery, we are glad to report that Ginger is back to her happy, playful self and is getting stronger every day. With the diligent care provided to her at home, Ginger is on the path towards a full recovery!