What is Surgical Removal of Dead Tissue?

After a serious injury or infection, it is common for tissue to die and fall off the body. However, when tissues die on a large scale, it presents a very real danger to the health of the dog. These gangrenous or necrotic tissues will almost always require excision or amputation in order to prevent sepsis and eventual death. This process is known as 'debridement' and usually takes the form of cutting dead flesh away from an existing wound.

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Surgical Removal of Dead Tissue Procedure in Dogs

The main method of surgically removing dead tissue is to use a scalpel or similar implement to manually cut it from the body. Sometimes, a mechanical 'scouring' device can be used to strip it away, but this method is less common due to its high tendency to damage healthy tissue. The first step the surgeon will take is to sedate the dog with a general anesthetic, which will allow the vet to better examine the wound and determine exactly where their cuts need to be placed. The next step is to incrementally remove the dead tissue, taking care not to cut deeply into the healthy tissue that surrounds it. After the dead flesh has been removed, the wound will be cleaned and covered with a dressing in order to heal properly. 

Efficacy of Surgical Removal of Dead Tissue in Dogs

Unless an infection has already spread from gangrenous tissue into the rest of the body, the effects of removing dead tissue will be instant. The wound will now be able to heal properly, instead of having its progress blocked by the dead matter. Although scarring may be an issue afterwards, the effects of successfully excising gangrenous flesh will be permanent as a major vector for infection is removed from the body. 

That said, there are alternative methods for removing dead tissue that are not quite as invasive (though somewhat less reliable). The first is to simply cover the wound and give the body an opportunity to break it down naturally (although this can simply give the rot time to spread). The second method is to use man-made chemicals to burn the dead flesh away. Although quite effective, this method does carry a substantial risk of harming healthy tissue. The third alternative is to use naturally occurring enzymes to digest the dead flesh whilst it is still in the wound - though this can take quite some time.

Surgical Removal of Dead Tissue Recovery in Dogs

Following the surgery, it is important for owners to provide a high quality of aftercare, as the wound their pet just had debrided will have increased considerably in surface area. This means that the dog's movements may have to be restricted via even less exercise and the use of an 'E-collar' to prevent them from introducing more bacteria into the wound with their mouth. Painkillers will also be required to stop them from suffering unneeded discomfort until the healing process is complete. The vet may also want to schedule a series of checkups after the surgery to make sure that no further complications have arisen. The total healing time for the surgical wound itself may be just over a month, depending on the size and depth of the area affected, and the age and general health of the dog involved.

Cost of Surgical Removal of Dead Tissue in Dogs

The cost of wound debridement depends on several factors including the severity of the base injury and the nature of the dog's medical history. More extensive surgery will command a higher price, as more expertise and finesse is required in order to avoid complications. Typically, the base cost will be over $600 but can be expected to not exceed $1,000.

Dog Surgical Removal of Dead Tissue Considerations

As always, owners of older dogs or dogs with a history of heart and breathing problems should be wary of any surgery that requires the use of general anesthesia. That said, while there are alternatives available, direct surgical removal of dead tissue is one of the fastest and most reliable ways to rectify the problem. 

Surgical Removal of Dead Tissue Prevention in Dogs

It is virtually impossible to predict and avoid most common injuries, as they are more or less an inevitable part of any active dog's life. That said, making sure to keep cuts and other open wounds clean and free of dirt will prevent a dog from developing necrotic tissue that requires removal. This does not just apply to surgical wounds, but also to everyday cuts and scratches.