University Of Tasmania

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Cat Bites of the Hand

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 15:58 authored by Mitnovetski, S, Kimble, F
Background: Cat bites are the second most common mammalian bites. Cat bites of the hand in particular represent a potentially devastating problem in terms of wound infection and long-term disability if not treated appropriately. The purpose of the present study is to give an overview of demographics, management and follow up of the patients with cat bite injuries of the hand treated at the Royal Hobart Hospital. Methods: Retrospective and prospective data of all patients with cat bites of the hand seen at the Royal Hobart Hospital for a period of 3 years (January 2000 to April 2003) were collected. Demographics, anatomical site, presentation, assessment, investigations, management and follow up of the patients with this type of injury were analysed. The accuracy of the obtained data was checked by analysing questionnaires returned by our patients. Results: Forty-one patients were treated for cat bites of the hand. Twenty-six were managed in the department of emergency medicine and 15 were admitted and managed by the department of plastic and reconstructive surgery. Five of 15 admitted patients required surgery. Compliance was not a major problem in our study as very few patients were lost to follow up. Almost all patients had close follow up and extensive hand physiotherapy achieving overall good long-term results. Out of 39 patients who were sent questionnaires only one indicated long-term problems with the hand (response rate 46%). Conclusion: Appropriate early treatment of cat bites of the hand is the key to success. Treatment with antibiotics, surgical drainage, debridement and copious irrigation, and use of corticosteroids in some cases, proved to be effective. Hand elevation and intensive physiotherapy after a short period of immobilization is critical. We believe that prophylactic antibiotics should be given even in case of a minor infection following cat bites of the hand. Clear guidelines for clinical recognition of infection, hospital admission and management are provided in our study.


Publication title

ANZ Journal of Surgery










Tasmanian School of Medicine


Blackwell Publishing Asia

Place of publication


Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Treatment of human diseases and conditions

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