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Bumblefoot treatment
#1
A couple of months ago I had a chicken with bumblefoot, and I thought I would share my experience.

One of my brahma girls started limping, at first I though it was a simple strain or injury, but then the foot looked swollen and redder, inspection showed a brown scab on the foot pad. I put her on high dose broad-spectrum antibiotic (co-amoxiclav) for a couple of weeks, and the inflammation settled down, with the limping lessening but still present.

By this time she had developed "bumbles" - firm swellings in the foot consisting of cheesy infected/inflammatory material (though I wondered if it was a firm pocket of liquid pus initially), having given it a couple more weeks or so she seemed to be limping more again, and one of the lumps looked in danger of starting to erode through the skin. The foot-pad itself had healed.
By this time I had read a lot about treatment of bumblefoot, and bought some scalpel blades, sterile dressings, and waterproof adhesive tape ("sleek"), and determined to do some minor surgery to drain/remove the infection.


I picked her off the perch one night, held the foot in iced water for 15mins to hopefully numb it (local anaesthetic would have been nice). Then, with bird wrapped up in a towel and a dark hood over her head (the end of a sock with small hole for beak & nostrils), I incised over the top of the bumbles in the web spaces between toes. I could then squeeze out big yellowish lumps of the bumble material, both from the obvious lump and from further into the foot. I was happy with this (and the bird seemed surprisingly unconcerned), however there was then brisk arterial bleeding (a narrow pulsing jet of blood) from both edges of one of the incisions. This did not stop with 5 minutes very firm pressure (pinching with fingers).

Now I was worried, she was liable to bleed to death if I couldn't stop it! I got OH to put the tip of a small screwdriver in a gas flame (hob) until glowing red, and then briefly touched it on each bleeding point to cauterise it. Happily this stopped the bleeding! I then covered the wounds with antibiotic ointment (bought in the USA last time I was there), covered with a small piece of non-adherent dressing from Boots, and wrapped the whole foot up with the Sleek tape. I changed the dressing twice at 3 day intervals, then left it off at 9-10 days as it was largely healed.

Unsurprisingly the limp was worse for the first couple of days, but slowly improved, and she is now walking normally. There is still a slight swelling in one webspace, but not bad. I also put her back on the antibiotics for a few days.

Hopefully this will be the end of it! Most accounts I read of doing this had described an incision through the foot-pad but I felt this would be harder to heal, as well as harder to remove the infected material through, and more likely to damage vital structures like tendons and nerves. It seems to have worked, hopefully it won't recur (although I believe this does happen sometimes). I was surprised to find the bird was surprisingly calm throughout, though it must have been painful, especially the cautery - though the only alternative then was watching her bleed to death, so needs must!
Hopefully this may be of use to anyone with a bird with similar problems. I estimate a vet bill for this would have been £150+ so culling would have been the only other realistic option.
Never forget that life is a finite resource.

Experience is something you gain just after you needed it most.
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#2
Gosh just call you Surgeon Sutty. I am afraid it would have been beyond me!! Well done tho, luckily I have never had it but I will book you if I do Big Grin
It never worries me when I get a little lost, all I do is change where I'm going
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#3
A most interesting read - and well done Sutty on all your efforts!! The cauterisation was genius!
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#4
A quick update. The hen is alive and well and walking normally. However I had noticed that the space between 2 of the toes was still slightly swollen, though looked healthy. Today I noticed a black patch on it so examined her properly to find a bit of the infected material poking out through the skin. I was able to remove this easily - it was like the tip of a very large blackhead-like lump of the material which extended further in. I seem to have removed it all easily, I think was just "exteriorised" naturally, through where I had incised. Hopefully there are no other bits left behind. She seemed unconcerned with it.
Never forget that life is a finite resource.

Experience is something you gain just after you needed it most.
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#5
That's good news - well done Sutty!
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