Jul 24 2017

Bite Abscess Wound – Case of the Week from Dr. John Glauser

cat abscess before after

This week’s case features a common wound seen in cats that have access to the outdoors.  This cat presented with a lump that appeared above the right eye and grew over 1-2 days.

Upon exam the lump was large – about 5cm diameter, located between the right ear and eye.  The lump was soft, had a dark red-purple area in the center, and a puncture wound at the top (see the picture above – left side).  The patient was feeling a lethargic and had a fever.

Giving these findings, I determined an abscess was likely.

An abscess is a pocket filled with pus in the body, often just beneath the skin.  Bite abscesses occur when bacteria on the teeth of the ‘biter’ penetrate through the victim’s normal skin defenses and rapidly divide in the warm, moist tissues beneath the skin.  The body responds to this bacteria by sending millions of white blood cells to the area to kill the bacteria.  In the process, a large amount of thick pus builds up under the skin.  This causes a visible swelling called an abscess.

To properly treat an abscess, the pus and bacterial debris must be drained and flushed out of the wound.  In this patient’s case, there was also an area of skin (the dark red-purple area) that was compromised by lack of blood supply and required removal.

This patient was sedated and local anesthetic was used to numb the area.  An opening was made in the skin at the bottom of the wound to allow drainage of the pus.  The wound was flushed extensively with sterile fluid.  The compromised skin was also removed surgically and the defect was stitched closed.  Antibiotics and pain medications were prescribed and a cone was placed around the patient’s neck to prevent self-trauma to the area.

After approximately 1 week, there was successful healing of the wound with no further swelling.  The incision allowing drainage of the fluid had also healed.  The stitches were removed.  See the picture above – right side.  Thankfully for our patient, no further treatment (or cone) was needed!

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