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Objective—To determine peak vertical force (PVF) and vertical impulse (VI) in cats that had or had not undergone bilateral forelimb onychectomy.

Animals—26 healthy adult cats.

Procedure—Onychectomized cats (n = 13) had undergone surgery more than 6 months prior to the study. The PVF and VI were collected from all limbs of each cat with a 2-m pressure platform walkway. Cats were allowed to walk at a comfortable velocity, and acceleration was restricted to ± 0.5 m/s2. Five valid trials were recorded for each cat with all trials collected in a single 1-hour session. All forces were normalized to and expressed as a percentage of the cat's body weight.

Results—Gait data were successfully collected in all cats. No significant difference was found for PVF or VI between cats that had or had not had onychectomy. Limb loads were greater in forelimbs than hind limbs for all trials. Mean PVF and VI in the forelimbs of cats in the nononychectomy group were 56.41% and 18.85%, respectively. Mean PVF and VI in the hind limbs of cats in the nononychectomy group were 50.22% and 14.56%, respectively.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Gait analysis was successfully performed in cats with a pressure platform walkway. The absence of differences in PVF and VI between the 2 groups of cats suggests that bilateral forelimb onychectomy did not result in altered vertical forces measured more than 6 months after surgery in cats. (Am J Vet Res 2004;65:1276–1278)

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research


Objective—To evaluate short-term postoperative forelimb function after scalpel and laser onychectomy in cats.

Design—Randomized, prospective study.

Animals—20 healthy adult cats.

Procedures—Cats were randomly assigned to the laser (n = 10) or scalpel (10) onychectomy group. Unilateral left forelimb onychectomy was performed. In the scalpel group, a tourniquet was used during surgery and a bandage was applied after surgery. Pressure platform gait analysis was performed prior to and 1, 2, 3, and 12 days after onychectomy. Peak vertical force (PVF), vertical impulse, and the ratio of the PVF of the left forelimb to the sum of the remaining limbs (PVF ratio) were used as outcome measures.

Results—The laser onychectomy group had significantly higher ground reaction forces on days 1 and 2 and significantly higher PVF ratio on day 12, compared with the scalpel group. Similarly, significant differences were found in change in ground reaction forces on days 1 and 2 and the PVF ratio on day 12, compared with day −1. No cats required rescue analgesia during the course of the study. One cat in the laser group had signs of depression and was reluctant to walk on day 2 after surgery, had physical examination findings consistent with cardiac insufficiency, and was euthanized.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Cats had improved limb function immediately after unilateral laser onychectomy, compared with onychectomy with a scalpel, tourniquet, and bandage. This improved limb function may result from decreased pain during the 48 hours following unilateral laser onychectomy.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


Objective—To evaluate the analgesic effects of topical administration of bupivacaine, IM administration of butorphanol, and transdermal administration of fentanyl in cats undergoing onychectomy.

Design—Prospective study.

Animals—27 healthy adult cats.

Procedure—Cats were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 treatment groups, and unilateral (left forefoot) onychectomy was performed. Gait analysis was performed before and 1, 2, 3, and 12 days after surgery. All forces were expressed as a percentage of the cat's body weight.

Results—On day 2, peak vertical force (PVF) was significantly decreased in cats treated with bupivacaine, compared with cats treated with butorphanol or fentanyl. The ratio of left forelimb PVF to PVF of the other 3 limbs was significantly lower on day 2 in cats treated with bupivacaine than in cats treated with fentanyl. No significant differences in vertical impulse (VI) were found between groups on any day. Values for PVF, VI, and the PVF ratio increased progressively following surgery. However, for all 3 groups, values were still significantly decreased, compared with baseline values, 12 days after surgery.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that limb function following onychectomy is significantly better in cats treated with fentanyl transdermally or butorphanol IM than in cats treated with bupivacaine topically. Regardless of the analgesic regimen, limb function was still significantly reduced 12 days after surgery, suggesting that long-term analgesic treatment should be considered for cats undergoing onychectomy. Irrigation of the surgical incisions with bupivacaine prior to wound closure cannot be recommended as the sole method for providing postoperative analgesia in cats undergoing onychectomy. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2005;227:89–93)

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association