When Toby (now named Rooney) was found and taken to Mount Pleasant (Mandai), he suffered from a fractured hind leg. His whiskers looked like they had been burnt with a lighter. Still, he trusts humans and is such a joy to be with. Dr Loh Hui Qian fostered Toby for a period of time before he left for The Cat Museum, Muses & Mansion of Singapore where he met his forever family. In this article, Dr Loh shares about young animals’ higher propensity of healing.
Immature animals heal much faster than adults as the fracture sites have a relatively greater blood supply and more pre-existing osteoblasts (cells with bone-forming potential). Older animals or those with concurrent systemic disease (e.g. renal insufficiency or Cushing’s disease) may take longer to heal than young healthy patients.
Toby is a 4-month-old stray kitten found with a limp on the right hind leg. Upon presentation, Toby was toe-touching on the right hind leg but he was still very active. Radiography revealed a displaced, simple, complete transverse fracture of the mid femur. There were no radiographic signs of osteomyelitis noted.
At that point in time, first intention healing via surgical correction with either a bone plate or intra-medullary pin was recommended to the stray feeders who found Toby. However cost was a concern for them and they needed time to consider.
A repeat radiograph was taken and a big bony callus had developed between the two fracture ends. The option of breaking the callus to realign the femur and inserting a bone plate or intramedullary pin was explored. However this approach seemed too invasive for a kitten and because the stray feeders still bore financial constraints, a decision was made to let the bone callus stabilise the fracture and allow secondary healing.
A third radiograph was taken and an exuberant amount of firm bony callus had been formed. The callus was drawing the two fracture ends to an even closer proximity. The soft tissue swelling had also completely resolved and Toby was using his right hind leg as per normal with no signs of pain or discomfort.
Toby’s speedy recovery from a complete femur fracture further affirms that young animals have a higher propensity of healing. Cats are also usually able to compensate for an impaired function very well. Toby is now prancing around happily, just like any other kittens.