On July 22, the Wildlife Center admitted a juvenile Red Fox from a permitted rehabilitator in Spotsylvania County. The rehabilitator received the fox earlier this spring as a healthy orphan. On July 21, as the rehabilitator was administering medication to the fox, the young male fox managed to escape the rehabilitator’s grasp and jumped off of a table. The rehabilitator was able to quickly recover the fox, though the fox was limping and very painful on his left hind leg.
When the fox arrived at the Center on July 22, Center veterinary intern Dr. Dana Tedesco anesthetized the fox for a set of radiographs. She was able to confirm a femur fracture in the fox’s left hind leg. The fracture was well aligned and not near the joint, making this an excellent surgical candidate. Blood work was performed, and Dr. Dana began planning the surgery.
On the afternoon of July 24, Dr. Dana and diagnostic intern Julia prepped the fox for surgery. Julia anesthetized the fox and shaved his left hind leg while carefully monitoring the fox’s heart rate and breathing. Once fully prepped, the fox was taken into the Center’s surgical suite. Dr. Dave McRuer, the Center’s veterinary director, scrubbed in to assist Dr. Dana.
In a dog, this fracture would be a fairly straightforward fix – it’s likely that plates or special wire would be used to stabilize the fracture internally. Because this is a wild fox, and not a domestic pet, Dr. Dana knew that leaving metal plates in the animal would not be an option. She also wanted to reduce the necessity of a second surgery, which would only lengthen the healing period and add additional stress to the fox.
With that in mind, Dr. Dana inserted a large intramedullary pin into the fox’s broken femur to stabilize and align the fracture. She used absorbable suture material to provide additional stabilization to the fracture. Once the metal pin was in place, additional radiographs were taken to confirm placement. Dr. Dana inserted several small pins into each end of the fractured bone; the pins were then secured together outside of the fox’s leg with an external fixator [external frame].
The fox recovered well from the two-hour surgery and was carefully monitored in the days following the procedure. One week after surgery, the fox was transferred to the permitted rehabilitator for continued supportive care and monitoring. The rehabilitator will bring the fox back to the Wildlife Center every two weeks for follow-up radiographs.