Canine & Feline Fracture Repair

Fracture’ is the word used to describe any break in bone or cartilage in a canine whether it is complete or incomplete. The word fracture does not imply any more simple or complex of a break. Fracture repair in small animals may include a wide range of services, from simple splinting to more advanced plating and external fixitors.

The Breckenridge Animal Clinic has over 20 years of experience in canine and feline fracture repair and can provide advanced surgical fracture repair beyond standard casting and splinting. This includes the use of internalfixation such as bone plating, wires, screws, pins, rods and nails, as well as external fixation – rings, bars or rods which pass through the skin and are fixed open or closed. Based on your pet’s specific needs we will recommend the best course of action.

Read more about fracture repair below, or return to canine orthopedic surgery home.

If you have any questions about our services, please don’t hesitate to call us directly at 970.453.0821 or email us your inquiry.

Fracture Repair in Dogs: External Fixitors & Casting

Virtually all bones are susceptible to fracture, but in dogs, fractures of the long weight bearing bones (humerus, radius, femur and tibia) and pelvis are most common. With most fractures there is also damage to the surrounding soft tissues.

The majority of fractures in dogs are caused by trauma sustained by motor vehicle accidents. Occasionally they will occur because of an underlying bone disease such as a bone tumor or from repetitive stress applied to a certain bone, as in a fatigue fracture in a racing greyhound.

To repair a fracture, the ends of the bone must be opposed and the continuity of the bone restored as close to normal as possible. This can be done closed- that is without exposing the bones- by using traction and manipulation, trying not to disturb the natural healing processes already underway. Or, it can be done open- surgically exposing the bones by separating and, if necessary, cutting through muscle- to visualize the fracture and to put it back together.

Simple non-displaced fractures can be repaired by external coaptation (splints and casts). Complicated and displaced fractures usually require some form of internal fixation. Internal fixation uses various types of hardware, such as plates, rods, nails, pins, wires, and screws for stabilization. A third type of fracture repair – external fixation – describes the use of pins passed from outside the leg, through the skin and into the bones of the limb. These pins can then connect to one another either by bars, or rods or cement or rings. External fixators can be applied open or closed, and combined with many other techniques making them extremely versatile.

The fracture in the dog must be immobilized to allow it to heal and this can be done in several ways:

* Simple non-displaced fractures can be repaired by external coaptation (splints and casts). A limb can be placed in a splint or cast, which aims to immobilize the joint above and below the fracture. Nowadays, casts tend to be made of fiberglass. This technique is not particularly useful for fractures above the stifle or above the elbow.

* External fixation describes the use of pins passed from outside the leg, through the skin and into the bones of the limb, ideally with at least three pins above and below the fracture. These pins can then connect to one another either by bars, or rods or cement or rings. External fixators can be applied open or closed, and combined with many other techniques making them extremely versatile.

* Internal fixation describes the use of pins and wire, plate and screws, with variations on these themes, such as interlocking nails placed via open reduction of the fracture. Plates and screws can be used for a variety of different fragments, but offer exceptionally stable fixation and in some cases the ability to squeeze or compress the ends of the bone fragments together. Such repairs can ensure an animal can be up and using a fractured limb as soon as possible.

Some Guidlines About Fractures

* Splinting or casting may work in young animals with simple, non-displaced fractures.
* Bone plating is a frequently utilized, sophisticated form of treatment for many fractures.
* External fixation devices, such as ring fixators, are also used to repair certain types of fractures. These devices can also be used to elongate or straighten bones.
* The Breckenridge Animal Clinic is one of the only Summit County veterinary hospitals to offer advanced fracture repair in-house, using external fixation and plating.

Treatment of elbow dysplasia is often a combination of medical and surgical management. The objectives of therapy are to relieve pain and maintain limb function as well as to keep the dog at as normal an activity level as possible. Surgical removal of the fragments is recommended before the development of severe arthritis occurs. While the choice of surgical technique (arthroscopy or traditional surgery) may vary, the results are similar. Unfortunately, this disease is progressive. Improvement is expected, but not normality. Medical therapy consists of weight control, moderate exercise, and antiinflammatory medications. Each case is evaluated for the degree of discomfort and arthritic change before a final treatment choice is selected.

All immature dogs with fragmentation of the coronoid, OCD, or an ununited anconeal process are surgical candidates. Recent studies suggest that, if an ununited anconeal process is detected early enough, an ulnar osteotomy (cutting the ulna) to relieve the stress may allow the process to unite in a normal fashion. Dogs with mild to moderate incongruity and minimal arthritis have the best prognosis. Even dogs with marked incongruity and large lesions benefit from surgery due to the decrease in pain. Dogs that have a combination of an ununited anconeal process and a fragmented coronoid have a poor prognosis.

Mature dogs with mild to moderate arthritis may also be considered for surgery. The objective is to slow the progression of the arthritic change.

At the Breckenridge Animal Clinic, we are able to offer both medical and surgical treatments for elbow dysplasia. Based on your dog’s prognosis and our doctor’s recommendations, we will decide upon the best course of treatment.