All Pets Veterinary Clinic

Dog Fight Wounds/Chest Trauma

Meet Prince. Prince was in a fight with another, larger dog. He was bitten over
the chest and received four small puncture wounds--two on each side. Prince was treated
for shock and had x-rays taken to evaluate for internal injury. He had a broken
rib and a mild hemothorax (blood in chest). He also had evidence of air under
his skin.

After treatment for shock, Prince was given general anesthesia and his
wounds were explored. This is one of the four small punctures that Prince received.
The puncture was approx. 1/2 cm in diameter and appeared to be very superficial.

The skin around the wound was incised and the tissues underneath the wounds were examined.
All four wounds extended through the skin and muscle and entered the chest cavity. This
was the source of the air under the skin. This picture shows the opening to the chest. The
chest wall was closed, a drain was placed, and the skin was closed. Air was evacuated from
his chest in order to restore negative pressure. Prince was given pain medication and
antibiotics and recovered well at home.

This is a picture of the wounds with drains in place after surgery. Blunt trauma can result
in significant damage below the skin. Bite wounds often cause much more damage below the
skin than is evident on the surface, as in this case. Careful exploration of bite wounds
is necessary to ensure that proper treatment is received. If Prince's wounds were not explored
he ran the risk of developing a potentially fatal pneumothorax (air in the chest). Prompt
and aggressive medical attention allowed for Prince to heal with minimal secondary complications.

Special thanks to Prince's owner for allowing us to share this case!

Karen Blakeley, DVM, MPH
12 August 2004