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Evidence in practice
Investigating and managing abdominal trauma in dogs
  1. Stefano Cortellini and
  2. Karen Humm
  1. Clinical Sciences and Services, Queen Mother Hospital for Animals, Royal Veterinary College, Hatfield, Hertfordshire AL9 7TA
  1. E-mail for correspondence: scortellini{at}rvc.ac.uk

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Introduction

Canine abdominal trauma is fairly commonly encountered in general practice, generally as a result of road traffic accidents. Physical examination is key to both recognition of the likely trauma (if it was unwitnessed) and also to allow accurate assessment of the patient. This should initially focus on the major body systems; that is, the cardiovascular, respiratory and neurological systems. Marked derangements in any of these systems can result in rapid deterioration and death, and so stabilisation of the patient should be prioritised over other less-pressing concerns. This focused clinical examination can be repeated to allow monitoring of the progression of the patient’s condition and assessment of the dog’s response to treatment.

In the abdominal trauma patient, the cardiovascular system can be affected by blood loss, leading to tachycardia, pallor and alterations in pulse quality. The respiratory and neurological systems may be affected by concurrent traumatic injuries and also need careful assessment.

Diagnosis

Once the major body systems have been assessed and stabilisation (if required) is underway, a thorough examination should be completed. It is vital to know whether the patient has suffered from blunt or penetrating abdominal trauma; that is, whether there is an opening into the abdominal …

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