How do we repair fractures?
The most common methods of fracture fixation are internal plate fixation and external skeletal fixation, although often a combined number of techniques may be required.
Fracture pre-operatively Post-operative:
fixed using plate and screws
Plate (internal) fixation involves the placement of plates and screws directly on the bone to stabilise the fracture while it heals (see the picture above). Plates generally stay in your pet and are not removed.
External skeletal fixation (below) involves the placement of pins through the skin into the bone that are then connected by a bar outside the leg. These pins are removed when the bone has healed.
Before the repair (side view) Post operative external fixation (front view)
What happens after the surgery?
Your pet will go home as soon as they are stable, mobile and no longer in need of intravenous treatment.
Discharge may be on the same day of surgery, although often a day or more of hospitalization may be required post operatively. Your pet will be sent home with painkillers and if necessary, antibiotics.
The importance of rest after surgery
After surgery it will be a necessity for your pet to be strictly rested, often complete rest in a cage, to allow the bone to heal. There is often substantial bruising post operatively, so it’s quite common that your pet may not want to walk on the affected limb.
Once the bruising has gone down often pets feel much better and do not understand that they need to continue to rest. Fractures generally require 8-12 weeks rest. We know that the rest period may sound long, but remember, if your pets is not rested this may lead to damage of the implants, which can lead to serious complications. After 6-8 weeks we will re-radiograph your pet to assess healing and formulate a plan regarding exercise and possible implant removal.
Most pets recover very well following fracture repair and go back to a normal life with normal levels of exercise.