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How a Walk in the Woods Turned Into Emergency Surgery

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How a Walk in the Woods Turned Into Emergency Surgery

You never know what you're going to find when a case comes into the emergency room - sometimes things that look serious can turn out fine, and sometimes things that you think are one thing turn out to be another. For Toby, what appeared to be a small injury was quickly discovered to be much, much bigger.

Toby, a 6-year-old Goldendoodle, was out enjoying a run through the woods when his family saw blood and what appeared to be a small wound on his chest. Concerned, they brought Toby in to our Urgent Care hospital in Madison to get him checked out. Dr. Urbonas examined Toby and became suspicious that the wound may actually be much deeper than it appeared – possibly even deep enough to reach his chest cavity. If that was the case,  it would allow fluid and gas to build up around Toby’s heart and lungs and become life-threatening. She sent Toby and his family over to our 24/7 ER in Middletown for a surgical exploration of the wound.

During the procedure, the doctors quickly realized that although Toby’s wound was less than an inch long, it was very deep – it penetrated at least 7 inches into his chest! An emergency thoracotomy (chest surgery) was performed to clean the wound and place a drain to allow it to heal correctly. The operation went smoothly with no other problems, and after a few days of recuperating in the hospital Toby returned home to his family feeling much, much better.

While Toby’s story might seem like a freak accident, these types of impaling injuries are more common than you might think – our critical care department estimated that they see over a dozen every year through our ER alone. Most of them, like Toby, are simply dogs running in the woods or yards that happen to hit a branch or stick at just the wrong angle. These wounds often look minor on the surface, but can be life-threatening without medical attention.

Thanks to the quick response from his family and the expert care at Pieper, Toby was able to make a full recovery. If you're out with your own pets and notice what seems to be a minor injury, don't be afraid to give your vet a call and see if it should be checked out - you never know what might be going on beneath the surface.


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