World First as Pioneering Fish Skin Graft Saves Dog
A dog suffering from a seriously infected wound and days from death has been saved by pioneering veterinary surgery involving a fish skin graft. The veterinary team at Skeldale Veterinary Centre, James Herriot’s (Alf Wight’s) former practice, used the fish skin as a ‘biological bandage’ to help the wound to heal and to regenerate skin around the dog’s elbow which had been destroyed by an infection.
The surgery was carried out in August 2018 and is the first time that it has been used on a companion animal anywhere in the world. The dog, a five-year old spaniel called Gigha, has now made a full recovery.
Gigha’s surgery was carried out by Dr Guy Killick and featured in a recent episode of The Yorkshire Vet. He explained: “Gigha provides vital companionship to her owner, Mrs Taylor. She fell into a drainage ditch last Summer and this caused a tiny cut on her elbow. The initial wound did not seem severe, however, despite intensive decontamination and treatment with broad spectrum antibiotics, the wound proved to have been infected with a resistant Haemolytic E. coli infection, causing a significant loss of skin from the medial aspect of the elbow. During this time, Gigha was hospitalised and was at significant risk of DIC and septicaemia.”
He continued: “The skin loss was full thickness and, once the compromised tissue was debrided away, she was left with a large wound. We managed the wound in hospital for four days with daily dressing changes and an irrigation device to provide local anaesthesia and the delivery of topical antibiotics. Unfortunately, skin grafting in her case was not suitable given the infection and a lack of sufficient loose skin to donate. As such, we elected for healing by second intention but, given the large area, we felt it was important to explore novel methods to accelerate the healing process and reduce Gigha’s pain.