A fracture is a break in the bone or cartilage and may be complete or incomplete. Fractures can be simple or complex. Fracture repair in small animals may include a wide range of services, from simple splinting to more advanced plating or external fixators.
The majority of fractures in dogs are caused by trauma from motor vehicle accidents. Occasionally they will occur because of an underlying bone disease such as bone tumor or from repetitive stress applied to a certain bone, as in a fatigue fracture in running dogs. Virtually all bones are susceptible to fracture, but in dogs, fractures of the long weight bearing bones -humerus, radius, femur and tibia and pelvis are most common. Soft tissue trauma may also be evident with fractures.
To repair a fracture, the ends of the bone must be opposed and the continuity of the bone restored as close to normal as possible. This can be done closed- that is without exposing the bones- by using traction and manipulation, trying not to disturb the natural healing processes already underway. Or, it can be done open- surgically exposing the bones by separating and, if necessary, cutting through muscle- to visualize the fracture and to put it back together.
Simple non-displaced fractures can be repaired by external means (splints and casts). Complicated and displaced fractures require some form of internal fixation. Internal fixation uses various types of hardware, such as plates, rods, nails, pins, wires, and screws for stabilization. A third type of fracture repair – external fixation – describes the use of pins passed from outside the leg, through the skin and into the bones of the limb. These pins can then connect to one another either by bars, or rods or cement or rings. External fixators can be applied open or closed, and combined with many other techniques making them extremely versatile.
Based on a pet’s specific needs we recommend the best course of action for the best outcome for the patient. Every hospitalization and surgery treatment plan is uniquely customized for what is optimal for the pet and owner. Dr. “George” is always an available resource regarding orthopedic cases and is positioned to offer courtesy consultations by appointment.