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Bumblefoot surgery - with pics and "how to"

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by ruth, Aug 29, 2009.

  1. ruth

    ruth Life is a Journey

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    Jul 8, 2007
    Woodville, MS
    Unfortunately, I have had to do my share of bumblefoot surgeries. I'm often replying on others' threads that seek help and advice so yesterday while performing yet another "procedure" I thought I would document and post pics and step-by-step info:

    Here's what the foot looked like from the top - notice the swelling:

    [​IMG]

    From the bottom:

    [​IMG]

    After cleaning the foot - notice the trademark, ever present, black scab:

    [​IMG]

    To operate on the foot, lay the hen on its side with its head and body covered and they don't normally fuss or move around:

    [​IMG]

    I begin by preparing a sink full of very warm, almost hot, very salty water. Epsom salts or plain old kitchen salt will work. I soak the foot for a few moments. I have a sink where I can keep her on her side and still put her foot in the water. If you don't have that, then just pick her up and hold her with her foot in the water. Soak for about five minutes while rubbing the pad.

    Then, using a sharp single-edge razor blade (or scalpel), cut away the black scab and pull it out. While cutting the scab off, cut down at a slight angle into the pad and go all the way around the outside edge of the black scab. There may be a plug of gunk attached to it. Pull the scab and any attached gunk out. Once the scab is removed, proceed with soaking again.

    Here's a pic while pulling back the scab - notice stuff attached to it:

    [​IMG]

    Here's the hole left behind - notice stuff down in the hole:

    [​IMG]

    Soak some more.

    Pulling out a plug:

    [​IMG]

    Keep soaking in the salt water and mashing/squeezing the foot while soaking.

    More "gunk" squeezes out of the hole. But please note, it is not liquid, it is a cheesy, rubbery substance and most of it will need to be dug out. Tweezers and sharp manicure scissors work well.

    [​IMG]

    I often work on a foot for close to an hour. Soaking for a few minutes, while squeezing, then digging around some more, then repeat. Don't worry about any bleeding - they won't bleed to death. I have them near the edge of the sink so I can keep their foot under running warm water so that I can see what I'm doing.

    When finished, you'll have a clean, deep hole. Pack the hole with Neosporin - you can also mix a little Terramycin with the Neosporin.

    Then, cut thin strips of vetwrap and wrap the foot going over the pad and between the toes. Unfortunately, company arrived and I didn't get to finish taking pics of the foot wrapped. But when I finish wrapping, I go around the ankle/leg. Don't wrap too tightly.

    I leave the wrap on for a few days, then take it off and check. Normally, they are healed but if not, I wrap once more for another few days.

    I've never given antibiotics and I've never had a reoccurence in the same bird.

    Hope this helps.

    ********************************************

    8/30/09 Edited to add: I cleaned her foot today and changed the bandage so I took the opportunity to take pics of how I wrap the foot.

    First - I cut a piece of vetwrap into three or four thin strips. Then I wrap across the pad and between the toes and wrap around the ankle with one piece and then do the same with another piece but go between the other toes. This way, she can have full use of her foot for scratching and roosting but no dirt can get in or under the bandage. Again, be careful and not wrap too tightly. I don't really stretch it at all, just wrap.

    Cut strips:

    [​IMG]

    From Bottom:

    [​IMG]

    From Top:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2009
    19 people like this.
  2. wildorchid053

    wildorchid053 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 12, 2009
    syracuse area, ny
    i am new to chickens and this is great. would make a nice place to visit incase of emergency..maybe a sticky?
     
  3. ruth

    ruth Life is a Journey

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    Jul 8, 2007
    Woodville, MS
    Quote:Thanks - Glad to be of help. I have a thread documenting a recent crop surgery I also had to do.
     
  4. hollyinpa

    hollyinpa Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 12, 2008
    Thanks so much for the picture and descriptions. Bert and I just performed this procedure for the FIRST time tonight on one of our hens.

    The top of her foot, between the toes, was quite swollen almost like a large blister. The swollen area was soft to the touch and slightly warm.

    Here's a picture of the top of her foot:

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=8413068&l=edb68aa96a&id=591965566

    Until today we hadn't noticed anything on the bottom of her foot. When I inspected it more closely this afternoon I noticed a small black scab - about the size of the top of a pencil eraser.

    Tonight we soaked the foot in epsom salts and then Bert cleaned the area with Betadine. After that, she used tweezers to pull the black scab off. It took some digging and pulling out of stuff to finally get to the bit of puss that finally oozed out.

    Luckily, I think we caught this case of bumblefoot quite early. There was no "cottage cheese" type liquid, only a bit of cloudy puss. Bert wrapped the foot with gauze and vet wrap after plugging the opening of the wound with neosporin.

    The hen was quite a trooper up until the very end when she DEMANDED to be put down and proceeded to poop on the kitchen floor. Guess she showed us.

    She's now back with her sisters on the roost for the night.

    Here's a picture of her on the roost, with her wrapped foot:

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=8413053&l=0ac9e069a2&id=591965566

    We'll check the wound tomorrow and I'll post updates. Thanks so much to everyone here for always offering such valuable information when it comes to our "kids". What would we do without you!
     
  5. jeanniejayne

    jeanniejayne Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 30, 2008
    mid-Delaware
    Dear Ruth,

    Thanks so much for the post and the wonderful photos.

    I am a certified wound nurse and what you describe we would call in humans an eschar -- the dead black tissue covering the infection -- almost like leather. Once that is softened and removed and the underlying dead tissue and infection taken care of -- they heal right up.

    I have heard that the cause of the initial problem is a dirty roost. Have you found this to be true?
     
  6. ruth

    ruth Life is a Journey

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    Jul 8, 2007
    Woodville, MS
    Quote:There should have been a plug in there and probably quite a bit of stuff that needed to be dug out. I've found, when they are swollen like that between the toes, that it's easier to use a razor or scalpel and make an incision on top of the foot, right down the middle of that swollen area. Then clean out from there because you can't reach that area going through the pad. The hen that I had that had the marble size swelling between the toes had not one but two plugs in the swollen area that I got out by going through the top. They were hard and looked and felt like dried kernels of corn. I could feel them through the skin between her toes.

    Edited to add that you still have to remove the scab and clean out the pad but you may also have to work on the swollen area between the toes, working from the top.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2009
  7. ruth

    ruth Life is a Journey

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    Jul 8, 2007
    Woodville, MS
    Quote:I don't think it's really a dirty roost or anything in particular. They can cut their foot on anything and staff/infection get in. My birds all freerange our farm so no telling what all they get into. Personally, I think it's just a "chicken thing". I have 200+ birds and so far have only had about 6 get bumblefoot.
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. nhnanna

    nhnanna Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 18, 2008
    The chicken coop
    Thank you so much for this information.
    Do you have a link to the crop surgery one as well?
    I hope we never have to use this but its nice to have just in case.
    thanks again for your time in doing this for us. [​IMG]
     
  9. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    Monique, this is wonderful! I hate seeing it since we have to do it so much, but the pictures are awesome. Thanks so much for going to this trouble for all of us. As you say, sometimes, you have to go in from the top and it's always nervewracking for me to do that, but just had to recently. [​IMG]
     
  10. hollyinpa

    hollyinpa Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 12, 2008
    Ruth -

    Thanks for the tip. We will check the dressing and the wound tomorrow AM. I think we'll soak it good again and try to get a bit more out of the wound on the bottom of the foot.

    After that, we'll probably go in through the top swollen area. It appears that the top swollen area between the toes might be where the plugs are hiding out. There definitely is more swelling/pressure on the top of the foot, between the toes.

    The scab we removed was quite small compared to what others have posted in pictures. I just hope we caught it in time.

    We had to cull a hen who got REALLY sick quite quickly this summer. She ended up with a wound on her rump that got infested with maggots. Before we realized it she was barely hanging on to life. We couldn't bare to see her suffer and the maggot infestation was just awful.

    I am not sure what I'd do if I lost another hen this summer. I am glad to hear that you've never lost a hen to bumblefoot. I'll keep you all updated on our hen's progress.

    Thanks again. Your post couldn't have come at a better time.
     

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