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Use of commercially available foam pipe insulation as a protective device for wounds over the elbow joint area in five dogs

Michael M. Pavletic DVM, DACVS1
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  • 1 Department of Surgery, Angell Animal Medical Center, 350 S Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02130.

Abstract

Case Description—4 large-breed dogs were referred because of nonhealing skin wounds involving the elbow joint area of several weeks to months in duration. One additional large-breed dog was evaluated because of a draining abscess with overlying skin necrosis.

Clinical Findings—Previous attempts at closing each wound over the elbow joint area had been unsuccessful. At the time of hospital admission, open wounds had variable degrees of bacterial contamination and infection.

Treatment and Outcome—Open wounds over the elbow joint area were closed by use of bipedicle advancement flaps or direct suture apposition of opposing sides of the wound. Lengths of pipe insulation were applied to the forelimb in a fashion to prevent contact pressure to the olecranon for a prolonged period (4 to 13 weeks) after surgery. All wounds healed completely. Release incisions (donor areas) healed by second intention within 3 weeks after surgery. One dog developed periostitis of the olecranon, which responded to antimicrobial administration. A second dog developed a skin bacterial infection below the surgical area that was markedly resistant to antimicrobials.

Clinical Relevance—The layered application of commercially available foam pipe insulation provided a simple and economical protective device after closure of problematic skin wounds involving the elbow joint area. Prolonged protection of the olecranon area helped to assure healing was complete and skin coverage was sufficiently stable to reduce the risk of reinjury after removal of the device. Each patient was able to use the involved forelimb during the treatment period. Paired bipedicle advancement flaps (release incisions) were particularly useful for closing small to moderate defects overlying the olecranon in which simple apposition was not feasible.

Abstract

Case Description—4 large-breed dogs were referred because of nonhealing skin wounds involving the elbow joint area of several weeks to months in duration. One additional large-breed dog was evaluated because of a draining abscess with overlying skin necrosis.

Clinical Findings—Previous attempts at closing each wound over the elbow joint area had been unsuccessful. At the time of hospital admission, open wounds had variable degrees of bacterial contamination and infection.

Treatment and Outcome—Open wounds over the elbow joint area were closed by use of bipedicle advancement flaps or direct suture apposition of opposing sides of the wound. Lengths of pipe insulation were applied to the forelimb in a fashion to prevent contact pressure to the olecranon for a prolonged period (4 to 13 weeks) after surgery. All wounds healed completely. Release incisions (donor areas) healed by second intention within 3 weeks after surgery. One dog developed periostitis of the olecranon, which responded to antimicrobial administration. A second dog developed a skin bacterial infection below the surgical area that was markedly resistant to antimicrobials.

Clinical Relevance—The layered application of commercially available foam pipe insulation provided a simple and economical protective device after closure of problematic skin wounds involving the elbow joint area. Prolonged protection of the olecranon area helped to assure healing was complete and skin coverage was sufficiently stable to reduce the risk of reinjury after removal of the device. Each patient was able to use the involved forelimb during the treatment period. Paired bipedicle advancement flaps (release incisions) were particularly useful for closing small to moderate defects overlying the olecranon in which simple apposition was not feasible.

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to Dr. Pavletic (mpavletic@angell.org).