“Dexter”, a 4-month-old male guinea pig, came to us one day for assessment of a leg injury. His owner noticed that his right hind leg was very swollen and painful to touch, and he had a very pronounced limp when he walked. A full physical examination was done: “Dexter” was bright and alert but had a very swollen and bruised right hind limb. The swelling and bruising extended from his foot to just above the hock (tarsal) joint. The hock joint is equivalent to a person’s ankle joint. No fractures were palpated, however there was grinding in the tarsal joint with flexion and extension. We recommended xrays of “Dexter”‘s leg and his owner consented. Xrays were taken of both hind legs, focusing on the tarsal joints and digits. The xrays showed that “Dexter” had a partial dislocation of the right tarsal-metatarsal joint and moderate soft tissue swelling associated with this injury.
We discussed a few different options with “Dexter”‘s owner to manage his injury and we decided to place a splint on his right hind limb. The splint was composed of several layers: first a layer of tape was placed, followed by cast padding. Special conforming splint material was then custom fitted to his leg. These materials were then all secured with a final layer of special tape. His toes were left slightly exposed so that his owner could carefully monitor for any abnormal swelling or discolouration that could indicate a circulation or lymphatic drainage problem. During splint application “Dexter”‘s leg was held in extension (held
out straight) to make sure that the tarsal-metatarsal joint was properly aligned. “Dexter” was sent home with liquid pain and anti-inflammatory medication for his owner to administer daily.
“Dexter”‘s splint stayed on for 3 weeks and he adjusted very well to having it in place. The splint was removed and the anti-inflammatory medication was discontinued. At the revisit, the bruising and swelling of the right hind limb had resolved and he was using his leg well. Since that visit, “Dexter”‘s leg continued to improve and within another week he returned to full use of the limb.
We are all very happy with the outcome of “Dexter”‘s case, and we are grateful for his owner’s careful attention during his recovery!