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Orthopedic Surgery for Dogs

Has your veterinarian told you your pet needs orthopedic surgery? Learn about orthopedic surgery, the different types of procedures, and what the recovery process is like for dogs.  

What is orthopedic surgery in dogs?

Orthopedic surgery is the most effective procedure a veterinarian can perform to repair a damaged joint or bone and restore a dog's health. A lengthy post-surgical recovery and rehabilitation period is necessary, and the cost of surgery can be expensive. 

A dog that's fractured or broken a bone as a result of trauma or congenital condition affecting the joint may require orthopedic surgery. Your primary vet may refer your dog to a veterinary surgeon who is trained to perform the procedure and is equipped with the necessary tools to do so. 

What is the orthopedic surgery like?

The goal of orthopedic surgery is to restore a canine limb to normal or near-normal function. In most cases, bone plates, screws, nylon, pins, casts, or an artificial joint are used. Dogs in good health are excellent candidates for orthopedic prcedures such as bone and joint correction surgery. For the surgery to be successful, pre-operative blood work and a consultation and physical exam must be completed. 

There are several different types of orthopedic surgery, including:

TPLO: TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Oostetomy) surgery has become one of the most commonly performed orthopedic surgeries for dogs who have torn their cranial cruciate ligament (CCL). This is similar to a human's anterior cruciate ligament. 

MPL: The medial patellar luxation (MPL) surgery corrects the luxation, or "popping out" of a kneecap (patella). A luxating patella is triggered by a congenital malformation, which applies abnormal force on the kneecap, causing it to slide out of its normal groove (the patellar groove). 

FHO: A femoral head osteotomy, or FHO, is the surgical removal of the femoral head and neck. In layman's terms, it is the removal of the "ball" portion of the ball-and-socket joint that comprises the hip joint.

THR: A total hip replacement (THR) is a surgical procedure that involves the replacement of the diseased cartilage and bone of the hip joint. These are then replaced with a prosthesis or “artificial joint”.

Lateral Suture: Essentially the concept for the surgery is very simple. To stabilize the knee on the outside of the joint by using a single fiber plastic line called a mono-filament. This very strong suture or line outside of the joint re-establishes the stability the joint needs when the ACL is torn.

TTA: A tibial tuberosity advancement (TTA) is a surgical procedure used to repair a torn cranial cruciate ligament (CCL). Unlike other procedures, the goal of this surgery is not to recreate or repair the ligament, but rather to change the dynamics of the knee so that the cranial cruciate ligament is no longer required for joint stability.

Cruciate: Cruciate surgery is used to repair a torn cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) in the stifle (knee), which functions similarly to the ACL in humans. CCL surgery is the most common orthopedic surgery performed in dogs, accounting for approximately 85% of all orthopedic surgeries performed each year.

How effective are orthopedic surgeries?

Orthopedic surgery is the most effective type of surgery for restoring a canine's normal state after a bone injury or joint condition.

What is recovery from orthopedic surgery like?

Following orthopedic surgery, there is a lengthy recovery and rehabilitation period, with exercise restrictions lasting at least two weeks. Following the first two weeks, the dog's activity will be limited to four months, and physical therapy may be advised.

What can I do to prevent my dog from needing orthopedic surgery?

Many causes of bone surgery are related to unexpected injury or hereditary joint conditions, so preventing the need for orthopedic surgery is important for pet owners.

Basic canine safety precautions, such as providing a fenced-in yard and using a leash outside the home, are critical to avoiding fractures or bone breaks. The only way to prevent hereditary or congenital causes is to halt all reproductive practices in canines known to be affected by the condition (s). Canines with hereditary joint complications, such as hip or elbow dysplasia, benefit most from spaying and neutering.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you still have questions about orthopedic surgeries for dogs? Do you suspect your dog may be suffering from an orthopedic condition Contact our Englewood veterinarians today to book a consultation. 

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VRCC Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Hospital in Englewood is always accepting new patients! Our board-certified specialists and emergency veterinarians are passionate about restoring good health to Denver Metro area pets.

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