"Spencer" - Collapsed Lung
Under normal circumstances when we breathe a partial vacuum exists between our lungs and the chest cavity. This allows our lungs to fill with air more readily when our chest expands as a result of our diaphragm and intercostal muscles.
If this vacuum seal is broken then the lungs can defate like a burst balloon. Consequently, we are unable to expand our lungs properly even with tremendous effort and we could eventually die of axphyxiation (lack of oxygen).
When "Spencer" was presented to my colleagues at Fairfield having been attacked by 2 dogs it was abundantly clear that his breathing was abnormal. Careful examination was unable to find any obvious penetrating wounds and it was initially unclear whether his rapid respiratory rate was down to shock and pain.
After initial treatment his condition was carefully monitored by both nurse and veterinary staff to establish whether his condition was clinically improving. It soon became apparent that his situation was deteriorating and x-rays were taken of his chest.
The radiographs revealed collapsed lungs almost certainly as a result of the crushing action of the dog's jaws causing a tension pneumothorax (air from his lungs leaking out into the vacuum surrounding them).
"Spencer" was then anaesthetised to have a chest drain inserted. By sucking the air from the space between the lungs and the chest cavity a vacuum can be re-established and the lungs will reinflate.
The clinical improvement is almost instantaneous and enormously satisfying for both patient and surgeon alike. Lots of back slapping amongst the Fairfield team although not too firmly on "Spencer" who is now fully recovered and ready for action!
BVMS, Cert SAO, MRCVS