Message Number: YG4115 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-05-30 00:27:00 UTC
Subject: Re: Ferret with a broken leg

--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., rascallyjingles@y... wrote:
> --- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., Rbossart@a... wrote:
> We are faced with the same problem right now.Rascal's leg is broken
> in 2 places in the upper arm.Plateing is what is being advised.
> The vet says a cast will not work.Tansy has also been lucky with a
> cast.It looks like its worth looking into further.Rascal is 6
> old and even if he kept it on as long as Nala did her third, it may
> give him a better chance at a normal leg.As it stands now the vet
> saying that it will mend and he should have 50% use in it but he
> be lame.I think he deserves a better shot than that.

If the break is in the humerus (the upper arm), then your vet is
correct in that a cast will not be effective. The cardinal rule of
casting or splinting is that the joints above and below the break
must be immobilized. If not, the cast actually acts as a weight on a
pendulum, worsening the motion of the break and pain at the site, and
resulting in a poorer knitting of the bones than if one was not
applied at all. While the joint at the bottom (the elbow joint) can
be immobilized - the only way to immobilize the shoulder joint would
be to put the ferret in a cast around the trunk, or a small body cast
(a humorous picture, but not a workable solution in ferrets).

Casts and splints that work well are applied to breaks of the lower
extremities, which are probably even more common. Breaks of the
humerus and femur are usually best treated with internal fixation
(plates, pins, and wires). If that is not an option, then I believe
a better option is truly simple cage rest. You may be surprised how
well a young ferret will heal. I wouldn't guarantee full function,
but I've been oft surprised by ferrets with orthopedic injuries.

With kindest regards,

Bruce H. Williams, DVM, DACVP
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