ECC Clinical Vignette: Head trauma in a kitten

The kitten – a 4-week-old male DSH that had sustained head trauma after being dropped.

At presentation he was semi-comatose, with opisthotonus, bilateral miosis and ventral strabismus with loss of PLR in the right eye. He weighed only 330g and for emergency administration of drugs an intraosseous catheter was placed in the left femur (see picture). After boluses of hypertonic saline and mannitol the kitten’s mentation and cranial nerve deficits improved markedly. Within 12 hours he was taking bottle feeds well, and he went on to make a full recovery.

Our emergency and critical care team frequently use intraosseous catheters when vascular access is difficult in paediatric patients. IO catheters are well tolerated, have a low incidence of complications, and can be used for both fluid and drug administration.

Head trauma is common in kittens and puppies, and even in severe cases the prognosis can be good with appropriate supportive care.