Porcupine Quills in Tendon

Discussion in 'Horse Health' started by StarPattern, Oct 20, 2018.

  1. StarPattern

    StarPattern Senior Member

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    Okay, so a friend of mine has a 7 year old horse that tangled with a porcupine. Long story short, the vet estimates the quills were in the horse's leg for about 3 days before being spotted. Horse is boarded out and barn owner apparently doesn't check horses that closely.

    Vet removed quills and prescribed antibiotics. Horse changed barns two days after the quills were removed because the barn owner decided he knew more than the vet and turned her back out into general population, despite vet's orders for solitary confinement to restrict movement. After a week, swelling is not gone and ultrasound shows a couple quill ends still embedded in tendon. Vet says surgery could be the next step.

    Has anyone been in this situation where surgery could be avoided in favour of a less invasive/expensive option? My friend is all prepared to pay for the surgery (in the realm of $2000, the vet says), but no one wants to spend that money if there are other options to try first.

    Any ideas? Horse is currently in a small pen with a poultice plus pain killers and antibiotics to continue preventing infection.
     
  2. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    I really don't think there is any other option. When something is embedded down in a tendon like that nothing but surgery will get it out.

    Do not wait. This is a very bad injury.
     
  3. Alsosusieq2

    Alsosusieq2 Senior Member

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    I've never dealt with anything like this. I've a funny feeling there's no way around it, I doubt a poultice would draw it out. Jingling though, sure sorry to hear this. No porcupines in Kansas that I'm aware of thank goodness.
     
  4. manesntails

    manesntails Senior Member

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    I would get it done at the University and check what they say. If her regular Vet, not a University Vet, removed the quills, he's the one that left pieces in there. If she had taken the horse to the University to begin with, they would have made sure all of them were out.
     
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  5. hamerface

    hamerface Senior Member

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    We have two veterinary universities in Canada, and a third running a half program.
    The closest to the OP is about 6 hours which isn't terrible but may not be an option.

    Two of my mares had quills in their muzzle. One still has a lump from the incident, I assume something was left behind. I don't think I would be messing around with tendons.
     
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  6. manesntails

    manesntails Senior Member

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    A lump in the skin after a puncture wound is not necessarily something left behind. It can simply be scar tissue that formed. My Cairn Terrorist has a lump on his back the size of a marble from a bite by a big dog. No piece of the dog's tooth was left behind.
     
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  7. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    The person who takes out the quills looks at them to see if they are whole or broken.
     
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  8. sherian

    sherian Senior Member

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    the quill will travel and work its way out eventually however it will do a lot of damage in the process - unfortunately surgery needs to be done and sooner rather than later
     
  9. Rhythm 'n Blues

    Rhythm 'n Blues Senior Member

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    when quills are left in a horses leg for 3 days - no vet can be held responsible at the fact pieces were left behind.

    I wouldn't assume everything will work its way out eventually - that doesn't *always* happen. If this horse is just to be a pasture pet for the remainder of it's life, and isn't in pain, then I suppose you could argue that side of things & forgo surgery. If the horse is to be useful in any way shape or form, then bite the bullet & do the foreign body removal.

    Think about how you would feel if this happened to you - you'd want the pieces out ASAP I'm sure.
     
  10. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    Yeah that's all extremely obvious. And I never said anything contrary to your statements, in fact I did not address any of those issues because to me, they are all very self-evident. Clearly, a vet cannot always guarantee that he can get all of all quills out. They break even if you try very hard not to break them. That's why he said they have to be removed surgically. And no, I would never, ever assume they would 'work their way out'. In fact, quills have barbs on them that PREVENT them from 'working their way out.'

    And no, I would not argue, no matter what, for 'forgoing surgery' to remove broken off quills. They fester horribly, again, there are barbs that keep them from falling out. The only way they fall out is if there is a horrific, painful infection and huge amounts of tissue destroyed.

    Leaving them in makes no sense if those quills are in there, whether that animal is a 'pasture pet' or not. I wouldn't leave broken off porcupine quills in a horse's tendon even if he had one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. Being a 'pasture pet' is no license for the owner to ignore foreign bodies embedded in a tendon that can cause severe infection and damage to the leg.

    What I said was that the vet who takes out the quills is likely the one who sees they're broken off, and the one raises the alarm that those are not just random swellings, but severe inflammation because parts of the quills are still in the leg - and that they have to be removed. That was in response to a comment by manes "A lump in the skin after a puncture wound is not necessarily something left behind. It can simply be scar tissue that formed. "

    For one thing these are not 'puncture wounds' if there is foreign material embedded in a tendon. These quills do a lot of damage and are very likely to fester.

    I'm saying that if the vet who tried to remove the quills says they are broken off and some of those parts need to be removed surgically, that the vet is probably right, because he can LOOK at the quill he took out and SEE that he doesn't have the whole quill. And to add, it probably isn't a 'lump of scar tissue', in fact it's very unlikely to be a lump of scar tissue anyway at 3 days!
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2018

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