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Post-op care - External Skeletal Fixators (ESF)

An information sheet for the pet owner.

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ESF care guide

Your pet has had an external fixator applied. This uses bone pins passed through the skin and across the bone, which are then connected to an external supporting bar with clamps or epoxy putty.

While these structures look dramatic, they are generally very well tolerated and your pet should be able to walk on the leg without too much difficulty. It is essential however that you follow the instructions carefully regarding cage rest or confinement.

We advise that the fixator be checked by your vet once a week to minimise the potential for complications.

A small amount of discharge is to be expected from the pin tracts, especially if the fixator is applied to the upper leg. This should be clear to slightly blood tinged in nature.

Look out for:

The following are signs of complications, and if you are concerned any of them may be occurring, please contact your vet immediately. Early intervention may prevent more serious complications.

  • Increase in the amount of discharge around any pin.

  • Excessive discharge around any pin compared to other pins.

  • Cloudy or smelly discharge around any pin.

  • Any clamps or putty that appear to contact the skin.

  • Increase in lameness of your pet.

  • Deviation or change in alignment of the leg.

  • Swelling of the leg, especially that part lower than the device.

  • Change in the outward appearance of the xator.