Pi was struck by a car whilst on his morning walk and was initially knocked unconscious before being rushed into the surgery. He had significant trauma to his left shoulder region and his breathing pattern suggested a punctured lung (pneumothorax) which was confirmed by X-rays.
In a pneumothorax air enters the space between the lungs and ribcage, leaking either from a tear in the airways or a hole in the chest wall. This prevents the lungs from being able to inflate properly so we removed the air by placing a chest drain that had to be left in situ for a few days being drained frequently.
Whilst hospitalised Pi developed a tremor and became quite unsteady. This proved to be due to a low blood calcium level due to an underactive parathyroid gland. This was not caused by the accident; it just allowed the symptoms to become apparent. He will require treatment for the rest of his life for this condition.
Having dealt with his life threatening issues we could move on to addressing Pi’s other injuries. It was his shoulder area that had taken most of the force of the collision tearing skin and muscle as well as fracturing his shoulder joint. Surgical fracture repair was attempted but unfortunately the nature of the break was such that successful pain free repair in the long term was very unlikely. It was at this stage that we elected to amputate Pi’s left foreleg to make him as comfortable as possible as soon as possible. This surgery went well and Pi recovered without incident including adapting well to life on three legs. It was even said that it was quite appropriate that a dog called Pi (3.145) should have only 3 legs.
Dogs and cats generally do very well on three legs with 80-90% of owners saying they would make the same decision for surgery again. Dogs have normally fully adapted within 4 weeks with hind limb amputees being slower to accelerate and forelimb amputees having more difficulty stopping.