Many of the simple operations on the foot, such as the probing of a sinus, the paring out of corns, or the searching of pricks, may most suitably be performed with the animal's leg held by the operator as a smith holds it for shoeing. According to the temperament of the animal, even the operation for the removal of a portion of the sole, or the injection of sinuses with caustics, may be carried out with the animal simply twitched.
When the operation is still a simple one, casting inconvenient or impossible, and the animal restive, the twitch must be supplemented by some other method. The most simple and one of the most effective is the blind, cap, or bluff (Fig. 38). With it the most vicious animal or the most nervous is in many instances either cowed into submission or soothed into quietness.
At the same time, more forcible means than the operator's own strength must be taken to hold the animal's foot from the ground. If the foot is a fore-foot, and the point desired to be operated on is to the outside, the pastern should be firmly lashed to the forearm by means of a thin, short cord, or a leather strap and buckle. Much may then be done in the way of paring and probing that would otherwise be impossible
Fig. 38 - The Blind.
Fig. 39 - The Side-Line.
If the foot is a hind one, one of the many methods of using what is termed by Liautard, in his 'Manual of Operative Veterinary Surgery,' the plate-longe, must be adopted. This, in its most useful form, is a length of closely-woven cotton webbing, from about 2 to 2-1/2 inches wide, and from 5 to 6 yards long, provided with a small loop formed on one of its ends, and perhaps better known to English readers as a 'side-line.' If webbing be not available, a length of soft cotton rope, or a rope plaited and sold for the purpose, as Fig. 39, will serve equally well. One of the most convenient methods of using the side-line for securing the hind-foot is depicted in Figs. 40 and 41.
Fig. 40. - The Side-Line Adjusted Preparatory To Securing The Near Hind-Foot.
Fig. 41. - The Near Hind-Foot Secured With The Side-Line.
Here the side-line has formed upon it a loop sufficiently large to form a collar. This is placed round the animal's neck, the free end of the line run round the pastern of the desired foot, and the foot drawn forward, as in Fig. 40.
The loose end of the line is then twisted once or twice round the tight portion, and finally given to an assistant to hold (see Fig. 41). The foot is thus held from the ground, and violent kicking movements prevented.
Where the operation is a major one, restraint of a distinctly more forcible nature becomes imperative. Many of the more serious operations can most advantageously be performed with the patient secured in some form or other of stock or trevis, and the foot suitably fixed. It is not the good fortune of every veterinary surgeon, however, to be the lucky possessor of one of these useful aids to successful operating. Perforce, he must fall back on casting with the hobbles (Fig. 42).
Fig. 42. - Casting Hobbles.
With the use of these we will assume our readers to be conversant, and will imagine the animal to be already cast. It remains, then, but to detail the most suitable means for firmly fixing the foot to be operated on.
Here the side-line is again brought into use. Care should previously have been taken when casting to throw the animal so that the portion of the foot to be operated on, whether inside or outside, falls uppermost, and that the buckle of the hobble on that particular foot is placed so that it also is within easy reach when the animal is down.
In the case we are illustrating the point of operation was the outside of the near hind coronet. We will, therefore, describe the mode of fixing the near hind-foot upon the cannon of the near fore-limb.
Fig. 43. - Photograph Illustrating Method Of Adjusting The Side-Line Preparatory To Fixing The Hind-Leg Upon The Fore.
The side-line is first adjusted as follows: It is fixed upon the cannon of the near hind-leg (A) by means of its small loop. From there it is passed under the forearm of the same limb, over the forearm, under the rope running from A to B; from there over and under the thigh, to be finally brought in front of the thigh, and below the portion of rope running from arm to thigh. The loose end of the side-line is then given to an assistant standing behind the animal's back, the buckle of the hobble restraining the foot unloosed, and strong but steady traction brought to bear from behind upon the line. The operator should now stand in front of the fore-limbs, and, by placing a hand on the rope passing round the arm, prevent the line from slipping below the knee.
By this means the hind-limb is pulled forward until the foot projects beyond the cannon of the front-limb. When that position is reached, the operator grasps the hock firmly with one hand, and, directing the side-line to be slackened, gently slides downward the coils of rope round the arm and thigh until they encircle the cannons of both limbs. The cannon of the hind-limb is firmly lashed to the cannon of the fore, and the foot firmly and securely fixed in the best position for operating (see Fig. 44).
Fig. 44. - Photograph Showing The Near Hind-Foot Secured Upon The Cannon Of The Near Fore-Limb.
Similarly, with the horse still on his off side, the off hind-limb may be fixed to the near fore, and the near fore and the off fore to the near hind.
With the animal on his near side, we may fix the near hind and the off hind to the off fore, and the off fore and near fore to the near hind.
The points to be remembered in fixing the limbs thus are: (1) The side-line should always commence upon the cannon of the limb to be operated on; (2) it should next pass under and over (or over and under, it is immaterial which) first the arm and then the thigh, or the thigh and the arm, as the case may be; (3) in every case, whether rounding the thigh and the arm from above or below, the piece of rope completing the round should always finish below that portion preceding it, so that traction upon it from behind the animal's back should tend to keep all portions of it from slipping below the knee and the hock.
With the uppermost fore-limb secured to the hind-limb in the manner we have described, we have the underneath fore-limb suitably exposed for both the higher and lower operations of neurectomy. The position for this operation will be made better still if the lowermost limb (the one to be operated on) is removed from the hobbles and drawn forward by an assistant by means of a piece of rope fastened to the pastern.
Taking what we have described as a general guide, other modifications of thus securing the foot will suggest themselves to the operator to meet the special requirements of the case with which he is dealing.
Regarding the administration of chloroform, no description of the method is needed here, as it will be found fully detailed in most good works on general surgery. Where great immobility is needed, it is one of the most valuable means of restraint we have. Apart from that, its use in any serious operation is always to be advocated, if only on the score of humane consideration for the dumb animal helpless under our hands.