Case study: treating a deep penetrating wound

  • Tizzy was extravagantly bending round the third pole in a mounted games bending race when she slipped and fell heavily into it. It snapped, and the dagger-like end penetrated deep into her armpit.

    When the vet arrived, Tizzy was standing, shaking. A huge group of people had collected around her, one girl holding the free end of the protruding post so that its movement did not alarm the shocked pony.

    The vet gave Tizzy a sedative and painkiller by intravenous injection, and sawed off most of the pole, rather than just pulling it out, to reduce the risk of a massive haemorrhage. At this point the vet said the pony appeared less distressed than her owners.

    Tizzy was loaded into the trailer and the owners followe the vet to the clinic. This was not without excitement, as they were stopped by police for going through a traffic light as it turned to red. However, once the officer was shown the problem, he obliged by giving an escort to the trailer, complete with blue flashing lights.

    At the clinic, Tizzy was anaesthetised in a padded box before the 18in of pole, which was firmly wedged in her armpit, was removed. There was concern an object like this would penetrate straight into the heart, but there is an incredibly strong ribcage for protection. As the pole was removed, the vets breathed a sigh of relief at the sight of remarkably little blood, meaning none of the major blood vessels located in the armpit had been ruptured.

    The wound was flushed under pressure with saline, then sutured with a drain in place to allow unwanted fluids and pus to escape. Tizzy was put on antibiotics, as well as receiving anti-tetanus serum and a course of painkillers.

    She was box-rested for 10 days, with the drain in place for four, but the only side effect of the trauma was the entry of air under the skin of her shoulder and neck. She developed the look of an elephant and if you ran your hand over her skin, it crackled. But she remained happy and all she was left to show for the incident is a small scar in her armpit.

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