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Patient care report for the stabilisation of a cat with a traumatic diaphragmatic rupture

02 October 2015
12 mins read
Volume 6 · Issue 8


Diaphragmatic ruptures in cats are often seen following trauma and can cause severe respiratory distress. This article reflects on the author's experience of providing emergency nursing care to a 2-year-old, domestic short hair cat, with a traumatic diaphragmatic rupture. In order to provide effective nursing care it is essential for the veterinary nurse to understand the effects of shock in the feline patient. Creating a protocol for the management of the dyspnoeic trauma cat could facilitate a more efficient treatment plan, allowing for available monitoring equipment to be fully utilised. If advanced monitoring techniques are not available, a successful patient outcome is still achievable with basic nursing skills and a good underpinning knowledge of the emergency and critical patient.

This patient care report highlights the initial veterinary nursing interventions provided to an emergency feline patient. The patient presented to the practice with shock and dyspnoea following a suspected traumatic incident.

The patient presented with a history of acute dyspnoea and lethargy progressing to collapse. He was reported to be inappetant and it was unknown whether he had passed urine or faeces within the last 24 hours. The owner reported that he had not vomited overnight and that preceding this event he was a healthy cat. He had never been seen by a veterinarian and so had no known previous history.

Visual assessment of the patient revealed tachypnoea (respiration rate (RR) of 44 breaths per minute (bpm)) and paradoxic respiration (when breathing movements are in reverse to normal, i.e. chest wall moves in on inspiration and out on expiration). He lay in sternal recumbency with abducted elbows and neck stretched outwards (orthopnoea). Auscultation revealed dull lung sounds and muffled heart sounds; his airways appeared clear from obstruction.

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