Digit Amputation - Cattle
Also known as: Claw Amputation
Indications for digit amputation in cattle include: chronic septic arthritis of the distal interphalangeal joint, vertical wall cracks with chronic granulation tissue, severe trauma and toe, axial wall or white line lesions with exuberant granulation tissue formation.
It is a good treatment option if the affected animal is older or is a low producer and is associated with rapid recovery and return to milk.
Several approaches are possible, including amputation through the distal part of the first phalanx, the proximal part of the second phalanx, or disarticulation of the proximal interphalangeal joint.
Flunixin meglumine (or other NSAID) is injected intravenously before surgery.
Intravenous regional analgesia should then be performed: a robust tourniquet is placed below the hock and 2% lidocaine is injected into the superficial vein running on the cranio-lateral aspect of the third metatarsal bone. Analgesia is effective within 2 minutes.
The preferable method is amputation through the distal part of the proximal phalanx using an open technique.
After preparation, a skin incision is made in the interdigital space and then beginning 2cm proximal to the interdigital cleft angling upwards to a point on the lateral or medial side of the leg, even with the distal margin of the dewclaw.
All soft tissues can be sharply incised in line with the skin incision.
Obstetrical wire is then placed between the digits and the distal end of the first phalanx is cut. If a portion of the second phalanx remains it should be removed.
Alternatively, the proximal interphalangeal joint can be disarticulated through sharp dissection with a knife.
The cut surface of the removed portion should be inspected for evidence of sepsis or necrosis and all those portions need to be removed with adequate margins. If not the outcome will be poor.
The surface of the wound is covered with an antiseptic or antibiotic dressing and a tight bandage applied to control haemorrhage.
The bandage can then be removed or changed in about 4 days, unless a septic condition needs continued drainage.
Parenteral antibiotics are usually given for 5 days and pain relief should be given if necessary.
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Divers, T. (2008) Rehbun's diseases of dairy cattle Elsevier Health Sciences
Van Amstel, S. (2006) Manual for treatment and control of lameness in cattle Wiley-Blackwell
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