Fractures

Dogs and cats suffer broken bones in much the same way as humans. Drs. Willer and Glawe have extensive clinical experience repairing fractures; from simple to very complicated. Our new state of the art operating room enables us to perform orthopedic surgeries in an optimal environment to ensure your pet gets the best care.

How do we determine if a bone is fractured?

In nearly all cases, pets will not bear any weight on the fractured leg. Swelling and pain are often present and pets resent palpation of the injured leg. X-rays are performed to determine which bone is broken, the extent of the fracture, and optimal surgical treatment.

How are broken bones repaired in animals?

While there are situations when broken bones can be ‘set’ and splinted or casted, surgery is required for a majority of fractures. This entails placing the pet under general anesthesia and making an incision over the fractured bone. The segments are then anatomically aligned and secured by means of one or more of the following methods:

Which methods are used depends upon the surgeon’s experience and understanding of the mechanics and biology of bone healing and what repair will result in the best outcome for your pet.

How long does it take for broken bones to heal?

In most instances bones will heal in eight to twelve weeks. However, this is very dependent upon the type of fracture, the age of the animal, and the degree of activity restriction during the healing period. X-rays are generally performed every four to six weeks after surgery until the fracture is healed.

What is required in the post-operative period to allow bones to heal properly?

Proper care of the incision is imperative in the early post-operative period. The use an inflatable or Elizabethan (E) collar is necessary to prevent licking and contamination of the surgical wound. Placement of a cold compress (frozen bag of peas or corn) can be placed on the incision twice daily for 3-5 minutes for the first three days after surgery. This will help reduce swelling and inflammation. It is extremely important that pets be restricted from running, jumping, stairs, and rough play during healing. Excessive activity will delay or jeopardize proper bone healing. Dogs often need to be confined to a pen or small room to prevent excessive movement. They will need to be leashed when outside to urinate and defecate. Cats may need to be crate confined if they are inclined to jump or become too active. Once the fracture is healed pets are permitted to gradually resume their normal activity.

Does the implant need to be removed once the fracture is healed?

Most of the implanted (bone plates, screws, pins, and wires) materials do not need to be removed. However, situations do exist when the implants need to be surgically removed. This includes infection, adverse reaction or pain from the implant, and migration or movement of the implanted material. External fixators are completely removed once the bone is healed.