I performed my first pelvic limb amputation during my Community Surgery rotation. I was nervous about performing this procedure. I did not feel at all qualified to be able to complete this surgery and my anxiety grew as the surgery came closer and closer. Yet, as with every other surgery I had done, I knew that I would come away from the procedure with a better understanding of anatomy, improved surgical skills, and increased confidence in myself and my abilities.
The pup whose leg I amputated had potentially been bitten by a rattlesnake or endured significant trauma to the limb. By the time he presented to our hospital, his leg was completely necrotic (dead) and the tissue was not healthy, nor could he properly use his limb to bear weight, walk or run.
I studied the relevant anatomy prior to the surgery and planned out a step-by-step plan for performing the procedure. However, no matter how much I prepared, I knew that the actual surgery would bring with it its own unique challenges and unexpected twists and turns. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the delineations between muscle groups were easier to detect than I expected them to be. With my review of hind limb anatomy, I was able to identify the muscles that I needed to cut through in order to remove the leg. I then applied my large animal vet skills and used Gigli wire to cut through the femur and then remove the leg from the body.
By the next morning, he was walking well on three legs, excited to go outside, and very enthusiastic about life once again. I am so grateful that we were able to help him out and make him feel better. It was a wonderful learning experience and I will carry the positive memories that it gave me as I move forward in my veterinary career.