Fractures usually occur as a result of an accident or trauma. In the first instance our priority is to stabilise your pet and assess for any life threatening injuries such as internal bleeding or ruptured diaphragm. Before any surgery is undertaken we also have to make sure they are fit enough to have a general anaesthetic. This can sometimes mean that your pet will be hospitalised for several days before any surgery is undertaken. During this time they will usually be on intravenous fluids and receiving strong pain relief. Find out more about what happens if your pet needs to stay the night.
How do we repair these fractures?
At Towcester Veterinary Centre we generally use two methods of fracture fixation: internal plate fixation and external skeletal fixation.
Internal plate fixation involves the placement of plates and screws directly on the bone to stabilise the fracture while it heals. Plates generally stay in the animal forever.
External skeletal fixation involves the placement of pins through the skin into the bone that are then connected by a bar outside the leg. It is one of the most common methods of repair used in cats and young animals. These pins are removed when the bone has healed.
Pins and wires can be used to augment the repair in both these methods and in some instances they are the primary method of repair.
Bandaging alone is very rarely sufficient treatment for a fracture.
The method used depends on a variety of factors including the nature and location of fracture, the temperament of the patient, the age of patient and cost issues.
At Towcester Veterinary Centre we use the highest standard of equipment and implants and our two surgeons are both members of the British Veterinary Orthopaedic Association (BVOA) which allows them to stay up to date with all the latest developments in veterinary orthopaedics.
What happens after surgery?
Your pet will go home as soon as they are stable, mobile and no longer in need of intravenous treatment. Usually this is the day after surgery.
Your pet will be sent home with painkillers and if necessary, antibiotics.
Importance of rest
After surgery it will be extremely important for your pet to be strictly rested, ideally in a cage, to allow the bone to heal. For the first few weeks your pet won’t feel much like moving but after the bruising has gone down and the skin has healed most pets feel really good and don’t understand that they have to rest! This is when it gets challenging. Most fractures require 8-12 weeks rest. Although the rest period sounds really long, the risk of not resting your pet is that the implants can break which would mean starting from the beginning again.
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.