Femoral Head and Neck Osteotomy Surgery

Femoral Neck FractureMost people know of someone in their family or friend group who has undergone hip replacement surgery. The level of pain people experience because of a hip fracture or abnormal hip is excruciating, and it is extremely difficult to watch a loved one go through such a difficult time.

As a pet owner, it is even more difficult watching your pet suffer from hip disease, bone fracture and/or chronic pain. Pets often hide how they are feeling, so you may not even notice something is wrong until it is too late and surgery is required.

Thankfully, many dogs and cats have the option of undergoing a femoral head and neck osteotomy (FHO) procedure. Because this is such an important procedure, you should only trust a veterinary orthopedic surgeon with years of experience to perform the surgery.

Dr. Evan Ware is the primary pet orthopedic surgeon on the Laveen Veterinary Center staff. He will carefully assess the severity of your dog or cat’s injuries to determine whether FHO surgery is needed. While FHO surgery is most successful in cats and small dogs under 50 pounds, there are many larger pets who have experienced success with this surgery.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Evan Ware, please give us a call today at (602) 559-9600. Our team will help you make an informed decision about your pet’s care and help you better understand what to expect during the FHO surgical process.

What Is a Femoral Head and Neck Osteotomy (FHO)?

The hip is commonly referred to as a ball and socket joint. The femoral head (upper part of the leg) is the ball and the acetabulum (part of the pelvis) is the hip socket. During FHO surgery, a pet orthopedic surgeon will remove the ball portion of the hip joint, ensuring that the bones of the joint are no longer in contact with one another. This will help relieve your pet of any pain and eventually restore mobility to the hip. Over time, scar tissue will develop between the femoral head and the acetabulum, forming a false fibrous joint.

Which Hip Conditions Benefit the Most From FHO Surgery?

There are several kinds of hip conditions that benefit the most from FHO surgery, including:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Hip luxation
  • Bone fracture
  • Severe arthritis
  • Legg-Perthes disease
  • Weak muscles in the back legs

Femoral head and neck osteotomy is commonly referred to as a salvage procedure, meaning that the goal of the surgery is to preserve the function of the hip joint. FHO surgery has the highest success rate for small and medium-sized pets because the false joint that forms can support their body weight more easily. If your dog or cat weighs more than 50 pounds, then you should check with a veterinary orthopedic surgeon to see whether FHO surgery is the best option.

How Can I Tell if My Pet Suffers From Severe Hip Pain?

As we mentioned before, most pets have a habit of hiding their pain from their owners. Even so, there are some tell-tale signs that may indicate your dog or cat suffers from severe hip pain.

  • Walking with a limp
  • Experiencing joint stiffness
  • “Bunny hopping”
  • Lack of motivation to exercise or play
  • Weakness in their back leg muscles

If you notice any of these symptoms, then you should have your pet examined by a veterinary orthopedic surgeon. Dr. Evan Ware can inform you whether your dog or cat is a good candidate for FHO surgery. If not, then he can recommend an alternative treatment plan to address your pet’s hip condition.

How Long Does FHO Surgery Take?

Most pets that undergo FHO surgery will be discharged the same day of surgery with no overnight stays.  Surgery will occur in the morning, then post operatively your pet will be monitored during the anesthetic recovery.

Post Operative FHOWhat Does the Recovery Process for FHO Surgery Look Like?

The recovery process for FHO surgery differs from the majority of surgical procedures. Immediate use of the leg after surgery is essential to ensure the success of the procedure. After about a week, your pet will need significant amounts of physical therapy. For most dogs and cats, this involves simple tasks such as range of motion exercises, regular walks and sitting/standing exercises.  Controlled swimming is also a great option.  If your pet is not using its limb after two to three weeks post-surgery, then you should contact your pet orthopedic surgeon.

Are Follow-Up Appointments Necessary During the Recovery Process?

Yes. In most cases, suture removal happens 10-14 days after surgery. After that, monthly checkups are scheduled to monitor the progression of healing and encourage physical therapy. Once your pet is using its leg normally, then no further follow-up appointments are needed.

Because of the false joint that is created, your pet may have a mechanical limp that looks abnormal. However, this mechanical limp does not necessarily mean your dog or cat is in pain. The goal of FHO surgery is to improve your pet’s range of motion and give him or her a pain-free hip. Some pets may have a distinct gait difference, but this does not mean that the procedure was botched or unsuccessful.

Advanced Veterinary Orthopedic Surgery: Femoral Head and Neck Osteotomy

While femoral head and neck osteotomy surgery is a big deal, it does not have to be a scary experience for you or your pet. At the Laveen Veterinary Center, we will explain your pet’s surgical options in a way that makes them less scary. During your initial consultation with Dr. Evan Ware, you can expect to receive the following:

  • Thorough assessment of your pet’s injuries
  • Compassionate care from an experienced veterinary orthopedic surgeon
  • Full breakdown of treatment costs
  • Advanced technology when performing FHO surgery

To schedule an appointment, please give us a call today at (602) 559-9600. Serving Laveen and the South Phoenix area, our compassionate vets have many years of experience diagnosing and treating hip problems in dogs and cats. Contact us today to learn more about the range of veterinary services we offer to pets with orthopedic conditions.