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Degloving Injuries

  • October 28, 2015 11:43 AM EDT

    When an accident results in a degloving injury, the situation can quickly become debilitating or even fatal. Here are some keys to success for identifying, managing and treating degloving injuries in your canine or feline patients. (You might also like Steps to Excellent Wound Care as recommended by board certified veterinary surgeon, Dr. Phil Zeltzman.) 

    Degloving injuries most commonly occur when an animal is pushed or dragged from a moving vehicle. In such an event, the friction of movement shears away bone, skin, muscles, tendons or ligaments — leaving the avulsion embedded with debris and bacteria. 

    Conventional management

    Key principles to consider in treatment

    • Prevention of infection
    • Early return of function
    • High-quality skin cover
    • Early primary definitive skin cover

    Initial wound managment typically includes thorough cleaning or flushing of the wound to remove any debris, and the use of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs to prevent infection and promote healing through reducing inflammation. Although preventing infection can prevent tissue necrosis, if necrosis is already evident, the cause must be identified and halted prior to continuing treatment. Obtaining samples for culture and sensitivity should be considered. Surgical debridement may be required, and laser therapy has also been effective in the management of traumatic wounds such as degloving injuries and avulsions. 

    Degloving wounds are often severe in appearance. However, with proper care patients can achieve clinical normalcy or healing with only minor functional abnormalities. Extended open wound care is required to prevent infections and necrosis.

    Breakthroughs in Diagnosis and Treatment 

    Although skin grafting is a common practice for severe and “hard to heal” wounds, it comes with a variety of limitations, is time-consuming and can increase the risk of negative side effects. As mentioned, traditional care options for degloving wounds include surgery, antibiotics and/or laser therapy to encourage recovery from traumatic wounds and tissue necrosis. Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) therapy has been shown to increase wound healing when applied to degloving injuries and other traumatic wounds. 

    Integrative care options 

    Non-invasive PEMF therapy (in small animals and the equine) has surpassed lasers and surgery as one of the most cost-effective treatments for enhancing healing, increasing wound closure rates and minimizing the risk of infection. After 3-4 weeks of at-home PEMF treatments, severely traumatized canine patients have shown a significant increase in their rate of epithelialization and a decrease in wound size. The positive nature and results produced through PEMF treatment have positioned it as a definitive therapy for degloving injuries in pets.