Stick Injuries in Dogs
Acute oropharyngeal penetrations or “stick injuries” are very common in dogs with many vets seeing at least one new case per month. Tim recently had an article published in the Vet Times about how to treat these cases which caused quite a bit of public interest being cited in the Telegraph and then the Daily Mail!
Despite this however, we continue to see cases sent in to us as sadly many owners do not see the potentially tragic consequences of an apparently innocent game of fetch until it is too late.
Many acute stick injuries can be dealt with very well within general practice. Penetration into the deeper tissues of the neck, however, warrants urgent (and often delicate) surgical exploration as infection can rapidly descend into the thorax (as a mediastinitis) which is often fatal. You can “spot” these more severe cases by either carefully palpating for any subcutaneous emphysema within the head and neck regions or by taking radiographs at the time of initial assessment. We are happy to see any type of “stick injury” whether it is confined to the oral cavity or if it extends down the neck needing careful cervical exploration or even thoracotomy to debride, remove and drain the damaged tissues.
These are pictures of a very long cervical tract that extended dorsal to the trachea into the mediastinum and the fragments of wood that were removed during the surgery.