Veterinary orthopedics and traumatology is a specialized field of veterinary medicine that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal, tendon and ligament conditions and injuries in animals. This includes conditions such as fractures, dislocations, osteoarthritis, spinal cord injuries, and congenital skeletal disorders.
Veterinary orthopedic surgeons use a variety of techniques to diagnose and treat these conditions, including physical examinations, X-rays, and arthroscopy,.… Treatment options can range from conservative management (e.g., rest, physical therapy, and medication) to surgical intervention (e.g., cruciate ligament repair, fracture repair, correction of patella luxation,…).
A cruciate ligament rupture in dogs is a common injury that affects the knee joint. The cruciate ligaments help to stabilize the knee joint. When a cruciate ligament is torn, it can cause pain and instability in the knee, making it difficult for the dog to walk, run, and play.
Symptoms of a cruciate ligament rupture in dogs may include:
- Limping or favoring one leg
- Swelling and pain in the knee joint
- Stiffness or difficulty standing or walking
- Decreased range of motion in the knee
Diagnosis of a cruciate ligament rupture is usually made through a physical examination and X-rays. Treatment generally are a TPLO, rehabilitation therapy, and pain management.
TPLO, or Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy, is a surgical procedure used to treat a type of knee injury called cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) rupture in dogs. The CCL is one of the main stabilizing ligaments in the knee joint, and when it is torn, it can cause lameness, pain, and joint instability and over time degenerative joint disease.
TPLO is a complex but very
standardized procedure that involves cutting and leveling the tibial plateau (shin bone) to reduce the slope to 5°. This helps to reduce stress on the CCL and restore stability to the knee joint. TPLO is considered a very effective treatment for CCL injury in dogs, and has a high success rate for improving function and reducing pain.
The recovery process after TPLO can take several months, and may involve a combination of rest, physiotherapy, and pain management. With proper care and follow-up, most dogs make a full recovery after TPLO and are able to return to normal activity levels.
Fracture repair in dogs and cats is a surgical procedure performed to treat broken bones. The goal of the surgery is to restore the bone to its normal alignment, strength, and stability. The type of surgery required will depend on the type and location of the fracture, as well as the size, age and breed of the animal.
Here are some common methods used to repair fractures in dogs and cats:
- Internal fixation: This is a common method of repairing fractures in dogs and cats. Metal pins, screws, plates, interlocking nails and wires are used to hold the bone fragments in place while they heal. This method is performed under general anesthesia.
- External fixation: This method involves attaching metal pins or screws to the outside of the bone, which are then secured to a metal frame outside of the body. This method is often used when internal fixation is not possible due to the location of the fracture or the size of the animal.
- Cast immobilization: A cast may be used to hold the broken bone in place while it heals. This method is typically used for simple fractures and is less common in dogs and cats due to the risk of pressure sores and limb weakness due to muscle atrophy. Splints and bandages have to be changed at least once a week.
Recovery time after osteosynthesis in dogs and cats can vary, depending on the type of surgery performed and the location and severity of the fracture. In general, it can take several weeks to several months for a broken bone to fully heal, and physical therapy or rehabilitation may be required to restore normal function.
With proper care and depending on the initial lesion, most dogs and cats make a full recovery after fracture repair surgery.
Patellar luxation is a common orthopedic condition in dogs and cats where the kneecap (patella) dislocates from its normal position in the groove of the thigh bone (femur). This condition can cause pain, lameness, and joint instability, and can lead to the development of arthritis if left untreated.
There are several grades of patellar luxation, ranging from mild (Grade I) to severe (Grade IV), based on the degree of instability and displacement of the patella. Treatment options for patellar luxation depend on the severity of the condition and the age and overall health of the animal. Treatment options for patellar luxation include medical management especially in mild cases of patellar luxation, medication, weight management, and physical therapy are used to manage the condition. In more severe cases of patellar luxation, surgery may be recommended to realign the patella and stabilize the joint. There are several surgical techniques that can be used, sulcoplasty, transposition of the tuberositas tibiae, lateral patellar stabilization (LPS), and corrective osteotomies. Furthermore, physical therapy can help to improve strength, flexibility, and range of motion in the affected limb. Recovery time after treatment for patellar luxation varies, depending on the severity of the condition and the type of treatment performed.
Hip dysplasia is a condition in which the hip joint doesn't develop normally, leading to looseness (laxity) in the joint and eventually, arthritis. This condition can affect dogs and cats, but it is much more common in dogs.
In dogs, hip dysplasia is multifactorial hereditary condition and is more common in certain breeds, such as German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, and Saint Bernards. Environmental factors, such as rapid weight gain and excessive exercise (stairs) during growth, can also contribute to the development of hip dysplasia.
Cats can also develop hip dysplasia, although it is less common than in dogs. In cats, hip dysplasia is often associated with obesity and can be worsened by a sedentary lifestyle.
Symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs and cats can include:
- Lameness in the hind legs
- Difficulty rising or jumping
- Pain or stiffness in the hips
- A "bunny hopping" gait
Diagnosis of hip dysplasia is typically made through physical examination and radiographs (x-rays). Treatment options for hip dysplasia in dogs and cats may include weight management, medication, and in severe cases, surgery.
Femur head and neck excision is a surgical procedure in which a portion of the femur, including the head and neck, is removed. This procedure is typically performed to relieve pain and improve mobility in patients with conditions such as osteoarthritis or avascular necrosis (death of bone tissue due to lack of blood supply) of the femoral head.
Recovery after femur head and neck excision can take several weeks to months, depending on the patient's age, overall health, and the extent of the procedure. Physical therapy and rehabilitation are an important part of the recovery process and can help improve strength and range of motion in the hip joint.
Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that allows veterinarians to visualize and treat joint problems in dogs. It involves the use of a small camera, called an arthroscope, which is inserted into the joint through a small incision. The camera displays images of the joint on a monitor, allowing the veterinarian to examine the joint and diagnose any problems.
Arthroscopy can be used to diagnose and treat a variety of joint conditions in dogs, including:
- Joint injuries such as ligament tears or tendon, joint fractures, and joint dislocations.
- Arthritis, which can be caused by joint inflammation or degenerative joint disease.
- Cartilage defects, such as those caused by osteochondritis dissecans (OCD).
- Synovitis, which is inflammation of the joint lining.
- Joint infections.
Arthroscopy is typically performed under general anesthesia and requires a small incision at the joint site. Recovery time is usually shorter than with traditional open surgery, and there is less pain and scarring.
Note that all surgery can come with complications even if not frequent it is still possible. As with any surgical procedure, there are potential risks and complications described, including infection, bleeding, blood clots, nerve damage, and implant failure. Don’t hesitate to make an appointment to further discuss this with our orthopedic surgeons.