Orthopaedic surgery encompasses any surgery that is related to bones or joints. It includes procedures such as fracture repairs, ligament repairs, spinal surgery and more.
Fortunately, one of our Veterinarians has a high level of interest in orthopaedic surgeries. Our practice has a fully equipped surgical theatre which allows us to perform certain orthopaedic surgical procedures that your pet may require. These may include:
Cruciate Ligament Repair
Cruciate ligaments are two bands of fibrous tissue located within each stifle joint joining the femur and tibia that controls the back and forth motion of the knee.
Degeneration and stretching of the cruciate ligament can occur for several reasons; this could be chronic or acute. Minor trauma to the cruciate ligament may be just enough to cause a complete tear or rupture. Obesity or excessive weight gain is a risk factor for cruciate ligament injuries. Some breeds are more susceptible to degeneration of the cruciate ligament; medium to larger breed animals (for example German Shepherds, Labradors, Rottweilers, etc.).
Cruciate Ligament injuries can be diagnosed by an examination by a Veterinarian (sometimes this may require the animal to go under sedation or anaesthesia for a Vet to be able to thoroughly examine the knee). After an examination is done a radiograph would need to be taken for confirmation of diagnosis, measure for correct plating (if required), and to organise for surgery.
For smaller animals this involves making an artificial ligament with a strong suture material. This procedure is less effective in larger dogs.
Larger animals require a specialised procedure called a TPLO (Tibial Plateau Levelling Osteotomy) surgery which involves the cutting and reconfiguring of the knee joint with specialised stainless-steel locking TPLO plate and screws.
Fracture (broken bone) repair
The method of repair is dependent of the type of break and the location, and could involve surgical plates and screws or pins and wire. Dependant on the break, if untreated could result in the leg twisting and strangulating blood flow and nerve supply, causing the leg to be unrepairable. External casting of some fractures is a recipe for disaster which is the reason we recommend internal fixation with stainless steel plates and screws. Radiographs are taken to diagnose the severity of the fracture, and to ensure there are no breaks to the pelvis and that the pelvis is still sitting in the correct position.
Once the procedure is done your pet will be given a short course of medication/s for a suitable length of time.
Exercise is restricted to almost nothing. Preventing over-activity in the recovery period is extremely important. Activity must be restricted for between 6-12 weeks to allow the tissues and bone to heal properly.
Amputations for severe injuries or bone cancer cases
Unfortunately, fractures caused by bone cancer and some severe fractures cannot be surgically repaired, and amputation of the limb may be required. Amputation is the surgical removal of a body part.
After the limb has been surgically amputated, the animal is placed on strict exercise limitations. These exercise limitations include the animal not being allowed on furniture, staying inside at all times except for going to the toilet which must be on lead or supervised. Maintaining balance on 3 limbs is difficult on soft surfaces such as beds, couches, etc. and there is a risk of injury when jumping down from elevated surfaces while they are still getting used to their changed centre of gravity.
Complicated orthopaedic cases, such as spinal surgery, will need to be referred to a specialist orthopaedic surgeon. Our veterinarians will assess each case individually, often with x-rays and/or other tests to determine the severity and exact location of the problem which will enable us to provide the best advice for you and your pet.