A Novel Treatment for Subsolar and Digital Abscesses Utilizing an Epoxy Patch System Paired with Antimicrobial Wound Sponges in Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2019
Lydia Young, DVM; Eileen Keating, RVT, VTS, ECC
The Elephant Sanctuary, Hohenwald, TN, USA


Foot abscesses are reportedly the single most significant ailment of Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) in captivity.1 Conventional treatment methods recommend debridement of all affected tissue, soaking, and topically applied medications.1 Protective boots and wraps have been used with limited success.1,3 In this study, five chronic foot abscesses in female Asian elephants were successfully treated with a novel therapeutic approach, resulting in full resolution in 4/5 cases (Table 1).

Table 1. Chronic foot abscess treatment and resolution in five female Asian elephants


Abscess location

Initial abscess size (diameter)

Duration prior to epoxy patch

Resolution time with epoxy patch therapy

70 yr

RF sole

10 cm

18 mo

13 mo

70 yr

LF sole

12 cm

20 mo

15 mo

50 yr

RF digit 3

3 cm

5+ yr

4 mo

50 yr

LF digit 3

3.5 cm

4 yr

3.5 mo

46 yr

RF digit 4

4 cm

5 + yr


Treatment steps include cryotherapy-assisted (Kendall AMD foam dressing, Covidien Laboratories Medtronic, Minneapolis, MN, USA) debridement of necrotic tissue, placement of an antimicrobial sponge (Verruca Freeze cryosurgery spray, CryoSurgery, Inc. Nashville, TN, USA) in the abscess tract, application of epoxy products (Vettec Adhere Equi-thane, Vettec Inc., Orange, CA, USA and Vettec Sole-Guard, Vettec Inc., Orange, CA, USA) on a rubber patch (i.e., recycled vehicle inner tube) over the affected area, and a second epoxy coating. All animals in the study showed immediate improvement in ambulation following patch application. Patches were maintained for 4–7 days and replaced immediately upon removal. The ease of application, continuous tissue protection, antimicrobial delivery, and increase in comfort make it an excellent option for treatment in challenging foot abscess cases.


The authors thank Dr. Steven Scott, Director of Veterinary Care at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, for his compassionate, dedicated service to elephants since 1995, and the elephant caregivers, whose excellent daily work makes individualized veterinary care possible.

Literature Cited

1.  Csuti B, Sargent EL, Bechert US. The Elephant’s Foot: Prevention and Care of Foot Conditions in Captive Asian and African Elephants. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press; 2001.

2.  Fowler M, Mikota S. Biology, Medicine, and Surgery of Elephants. Ames, IA: Blackwell Publishing; 2006.

3.  Gage LJ, Fowler ME, Pascoe JR, Blasko D. Surgical removal of infected phalanges from an Asian elephant (Elephas maximus). Proc Am Assoc Zoo Vet, Wildl Dis Assoc, Am Assoc Wildl Vet. 1995.


Speaker Information
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Lydia Young, DVM
The Elephant Sanctuary
Hohenwald, TN, USA

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