Bone Fracture Repair

Bone Fracture Repair at PetCare Veterinary Hospital

Background Information

  • Fracture injuries are common in dogs and cats.
  • Low-energy fractures are isolated injuries with no injury to other body compartments.
  • High-energy fractures are associated with either gunshot wounds or whole body trauma, such as collision with a motor vehicle.

Diagnosis

  • Fractures of the long bones are often readily apparent but fractures of the spine, pelvis, and skull may be difficult to assess without specialized training and X-rays.
  • The first objective is to determine the location and severity of the fracture.
    • The first set of X-rays (survey X-rays) is often repeated under anesthesia prior to surgery to clarify the configuration of the fracture.
    • Severity is based upon the amount of displacement of fracture ends, the presence of bone penetrating through the skin (open fracture), the number of pieces in the fracture configuration (simple versus comminuted), and presence or absence of joint involvement.
  • The second objective is to identify the presence or absence of concurrent injuries.
    • This often requires additional testing such as blood tests, neurologic evaluation, and additional X-rays or computed tomography (CT scan).
    • Neurologic injuries, soft tissue injuries, and internal injuries within the chest or abdominal cavities are common concerns when fractures are associated with whole-body injury.
    • Internal injuries may take 35 days or even longer to become readily apparent.

Treatment

  • The initial goal is to support the fracture with a splint and cover open wounds when present; however, treatment for shock and supportive care for internal injuries is the highest priority following whole-body trauma.
  • Low-energy fractures can be treated soon after injury; however, repair of high-energy fractures are often delayed 23 days, and in some cases up to a week, following injury.
  • Not all fractures require surgery. Some fractures can be managed conservatively with restricted activity and external splints or casts with complete recovery.
  • More severe fractures may require surgery to accomplish bone healing and restore adequate function.
  • Surgeons at PetCare have access to and experience using many techniques of bone fixation such as bone plating, interlocking nails, plate-rod fixation, screws, pins, wires, and external fixation including ring fixators, acrylic, and carbon fiber rod external fixation.
    • Each fracture is unique. During your consultation, the surgeon will determine which methods of repair are practical, reliable, and most economical to meet the needs of you and your pet.
    • In some cases, additional X-rays under anesthesia and even surgical exploration are required before full assessment of the fracture can be determined.

Post-Operative Recovery

  • Following fracture repair, most patients will spend 13 nights in the hospital and are often walking at the time of discharge.
  • Recoveries vary and may range from 620 weeks to achieve complete healing and rehabilitation depending upon the procedure performed.
    • Most fractures require 8-12 weeks for bone healing followed by 4-6 weeks of leash walks before they are allowed full activity.

Outcome

  • Most fractures can be healed with good to excellent long-term comfort and function.
  • Most fractures are repaired in a single procedure; however, more complex fractures may require a second or third procedure to achieve optimal outcome.

If you have questions about fracture repair for your pet, you can schedule a consultation with one of our board-certified surgeons at PetCare by calling (707) 579-3900.