Nisha Rai, 32, now swears to be extra cautious while letting Riya, her one-and-a-half month old daughter, sleep on the floor of their chawl residence in Colaba.
Bitten by a rat two weeks ago, the seemingly small prick on Riya’s little finger landed her in Bombay Hospital. Riya had to be operated upon to save her hand. Riya was discharged from the hospital on Monday.
“As we were sleeping on the floor, a rat bit my daughter’s right hand. We thought it was something minor and took her to a nearby clinic. She even felt better after the treatment,” said Nisha.
However, after two days Riya contracted fever and her hand was inflamed with reddening.
“When the patient came to the hospital, her right hand was swollen like a tight balloon and had become stiff. Her hand movements too were restricted,” said Dr Vinay Jacob, plastic surgeon, Bombay Hospital. According to the doctors, Riya had suffered from compartment syndrome due to rat bite.
In this syndrome, the nerves and blood vessels of the limb get compressed due to the swelling caused by an infection and stop the supply of blood to the area. This complication leads to gangrene, which if not treated in time, can lead to amputation.
On July 18, doctors at the Bombay Hospital operated on Riya to clean the growing infection and release the high pressure that had ballooned the hand. “As a result of the infection, the tissues in her hand had swollen which had increased the pressure in the hand,” said Dr Suba Sundaresan, resident doctor, pediatrics department, Bombay Hospital. The swelling of the hand has now subsided with regular dressing and antibiotics.
“Instances of rat bites are common in children, where the houses are situated on the ground or first floors. But we did not find any mention of this kind of complication occurring in a child due to rodent bite in medical literature,” said Dr Mukesh Sanklecha, pediatrician, Bombay Hospital.
“Compartment syndrome is seen mostly in patients after major trauma where there is major tissue and bone damage such as in case of a road accident or machine injury.”
The hospital plans to send the case for publication in Hand Surgery Journal.