Plates, Screws and BooBoos, Part 2

When we finally arrived at the Ohio State Vet Hospital I found my way to the registration desk. After filling out a few papers a vet student came find me. 

A group of students assembled and we brought her in. Puzzle was placed on a make shift calf stretcher. It was simply a metal cart with lots of padding. 

Her admittance was similar to that of a human. Vitals, blood draw and medical history was taken. Next her cast was removed. She wasn’t too keen with this. On top of what I’m sure wasn’t the most pleasant procedure, due to her leg becoming mobile again, she was hungry! Just like a person, she was prohibited from eating Tuesday morning so she could go in to surgery immediately if needed. One thing that we’ve learned is Puzzle is a girl with an appetite! 

After her initial work up, Puzzle was taken to X-rays. We obviously knew her back right leg was horribly broken, but a better look was needed to develop a medical plan. 

X-rays revealed that had a complete break of her Tibia as well as several hair line fractures around her hock (rear knee) area. One possibly went in to the joint. This left us with 3 options: 

  1. Re-cast and include a brace made of heavy wire. This would help immobilize the hip, but not completely stabilize it. The pro is it is cheap. The big con was the outlook was not much more positive than simply casting. 
  2. Pins. Pins would be placed above and below the break. This would stabilize the bone, allowing it to heal while casted. Pro- reasonable price, fairly good outcome. Cons- pins have a higher risk of infection because the pin is both inside and outside of her leg. She would also have a fairly bulky, combersome cast for 6-8 weeks. During this time she would need to be recasted and have pins adjusted 1-2 times. 
  3. Plate and Screws. A large plate would be placed along the break and screwed in to stabilize. This would provide pressure to heal the hairline fractures. Also only a follow up visit to remove sutures would be needed. Pros- no cast, very mobile immediately after surgery and best chance for complete healing. Cons- price

After much consideration, thought, calling Tom for his thoughts and listening to my mother inform me they had more money wrapped up in a cat once (that’s a whole other story) I made the decision to have them use a plate. 

Puzzle was immediately taken to surgery. They were worried if she sat over night her break may have punctured the skin. This would open a whole can of worms to infection. 

We were allowed to watch the surgery! I’m not sure how many packs of fruit snacks nor how many cheesy John Deere YouTube videos Henry watched, but we occupied a toddler for a nearly 3 hour surgery. No small feat! 

Here’s a few photos from surgery. I edited out students faces. I didn’t want to share anyone’s picture they didn’t want shared! 

Cleaning and prepping her leg for surgery.

Dissecting back tissue to place the pin.

Waking up from anesthsia to pets from the vet students.


Here is an X-ray after the pin was placed and every thing was patched back up! 


A 6 inch plate and 8 screws later her leg was back in one piece! Seven screws run straight thru the plate (1 is visible in this X-ray) then 1 runs in towards her hock to hold all the tiny fractures together. 

Incredibly she eagerly sucked down a bottle of milk almost immediately after surgery. She was then so happy to eat, she tried to bounce, like a normal happy baby! This isn’t something that’s ok after major surgery to a leg. She had to be mildly sedated, foods just too exciting 😂

The following morning the hospital called to give us an update. She was eating like a champ, walking around and overall happy. They then gave us the great news that she could come home the following afternoon! 

Shortly after the phone call from the vet, my phone rang with a call from the tire store. The manager called to see how Puzzle was doing! I gave her the happy report.

Thursday afternoon we made an uneventful trip back to Columbus to pick up Puzzle, the newly bionic calf! 

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3 thoughts on “Plates, Screws and BooBoos, Part 2

  1. Wow! What a story!
    You clearly care deeply for your animals and take excellent care of them. Puzzle is lucky to have you.
    I hope that she heals up well. May you have many great years with your bionic calf!

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