Digby – Skin Grafts
Digby is a very distinguished 14 year old gentleman who despite having had a long term heart murmur refuses to believe he is getting older! His owner noticed a lump growing on his back leg very closely associated with his hock – or ankle – joint. Initally we just monitored the mass as we were a little reluctant with Digby’s heart problem to put him under an anaesthetic.
Unfortunately the lump continued to grow and in February we decided we would have to operate as it was beginning to hinder his mobility.
This was an awkward spot to operate in as there would be very little skin remaining to cover the wound once we had resected the mass.
At surgery the mass was removed very successfully and Digby did very well under his anaesthetic but as we had feared we were unable to close the wound. We hoped that new skin would grow over the gap we had had to leave behind – this would leave a large scar but a satisfactory result for Digby. The mass was analysed and found to be a soft tissue sarcoma – a nasty tumour which had been removed completely.
Unfortunately after a month of bandaging we still had a large area of open wound. Digby had produced a very healthy “granulation bed” of new raw tissue but no skin was growing across it. At this stage we had to re-assess our options and it was decided a skin graft was needed.
This meant another general anaesthetic for Digby, but we had already learnt there is plenty of life in this old dog and so in mid March he came in for his procedure. We harvested an area of skin from his flank and prepared it by scraping back all the underlying fat and unnecessary tissue. It was then stitched over the wound on his leg, a bandage was placed to stop any movement of the limb (movement is the arch enemy of skin grafts!) and we all crossed our fingers.
To our delight – and Digbys credit – his graft took beautifully, and not a single part of it was lost. Just a couple of weeks later his bandage was off and he was back on his normal walks again.
A fantastic success for all the team with a relatively unusual procedure, and proof that age is no barrier to healing.
Photos to follow…