3 Common Orthopedic Veterinary SurgeriesPossibly one of the greatest joys of being a pet parent is watching your pet run and play. Seeing them enjoy their life and its simple wonders, is not only therapeutic for owners, but it confirms a pet’s overall well-being. So, when the accidents of life affect a pet’s mobility, this hardship can easily impact their quality of life as well. And no owner wants to watch the twinkle of fun slowly slip from their pet’s eyes. Here are 3 of the most common orthopedic veterinary surgeries explained.

Modified Maquet Procedure (a.k.a Tibial Tuberosity Advancement)

Often diagnosed with the most active or curious of patients, a torn cranial cruciate injury can be quite painful. In this injury, the tendon connecting your pet’s shin bone (tibia) to their knee tears similar to an ACL injury seen in people. The injury results in the knee becoming unstable and usage of said knee or leg can be painful, if not uncomfortable. Pets commonly obtain this injury through excessive strain or trauma such as slips, trips, falls, or vigorous exercise. These injuries will not heal naturally and typically require surgical intervention.

One of the most common surgeries performed to stabilize the pet’s knee is called Modified Maquet Procedure, or MMP, which is also commonly referred to by Tibial Tuberosity Advancement, or TTA.  In an MMP, a titanium wedge, pin, and staple are placed in the tibia bone to change the biomechanics of the knee such that the ligaments are no longer needed to support or stabilize the knee. (See image.)

The advantage of the MMP compared to the TPLO is significant with regard to recovery and post-operative care. With an MMP, the patient can start to bear weight and use the limb immediately after surgery whereas with a TPLO, the patient must undergo strict cage rest for 6-8 weeks and then perform rehabilitation. The latter option ultimately delays a patient’s total recovery time. As with any orthopedic patient, however, the recovery period is a process and restrictions must be in place until the surgeon has cleared the pet to resume normal activity levels.

Femoral Head Ostectomy

Femoral Head Ostectomy involves the removal of bone-on-bone contact between the femoral head “ball” and the acetabulum, or hip socket. Veterinarians accomplish this goal by removing the “ball” portion of the femoral head allowing a degree of spacing between the two bones. (See image.) While the pet is in recovery and rehabilitation, the leg muscles will hold the femur in place and give the body time for scar tissue to develop between the joints. Then, once a pet is in post-operative care and has been cleared by the veterinary surgeon, it is imperative owners gradually encourage the joint’s range of motion to maintain flexibility.

This procedure, if hip replacement is not recommended, can benefit pets who have been diagnosed with hip dysplasia, hip luxation/dislocation, fractures of the hip joint, or Legg-Calve-Perthes disease. Although there is the possibility of a long road to recovery, this procedure can provide pain-free mobility for the pet.

Fracture Repair

When owners think of orthopedic surgery, fracture repairs are often one of the first procedures that come to mind. This procedure is often a result of trauma in the form of a car accident, animal fight, or sporting activity. Depending on the severity of the fracture and the pet’s pain tolerance, he or she may exhibit a number of symptoms including lameness, an unwillingness or inability to walk, abnormal movement, swelling, or pain. If the pet’s veterinarian determines to pursue a surgical approach, the surgeon will work on stabilizing and possibly repositioning the injured or damaged bones.

Generally, a surgeon has three methods to perform a fracture repair: splinting, bone plating, or using external fixation devices. Bone plating and external fixation are the two most invasive and extensive procedures. For bone plating, the veterinarian will use internal stainless steel or titanium plates held with screws to stabilize the broken bones. However, external fixation devices commonly treat complex fractures as they consist of multiple bars or rings that hold the injured bone in place as the body naturally heals.

Regardless of the method the surgeon undertakes, the pet’s aftercare consists of heavy activity restriction, physical therapy, and consistent bandage care. Relatively speaking, a pet should recover and return to normal activity as fractures can heal over a large amount of time.

If your pet is showing signs of orthopedic distress or has recently experienced an orthopedic-related trauma, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with your primary veterinarian.

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