Orthopaedic surgery is any surgery that involves your pet’s skeletal system and the bones, joints, tendons, muscles, ligaments and cartilage associated with it. Orthopaedic surgery aims to improve your pet’s quality of life by re-establishing function and stability, easing pain and improving your pet’s range of motion.
Your veterinarian will often be able to manage many orthopaedic issues using medications and non surgical treatments eg physiotherapy, however, there are times where surgery is necessary to treat your pet’s condition eg bone fracture, complete tear of the ACL.
The most common orthopaedic surgeries that are carried out includes:
- Patella Luxation Surgery
- Cranial Cruciate Ligament Repair Surgery
- Fracture Repair
- Femoral Head Ostectomy
- Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis
When the patella is “luxated”, the kneecap is essentially displaced. Instead of just sliding up-and-down, it can move from side-to-side. About 50% of the dogs with patella luxation are affected in both legs.
The cause of luxating patella is poorly understood. However, this condition is known to be associated with a genetic malformation or traumatic in origin. There are several skeletal abnormalities affecting the alignment of the hindlimb that can be the cause of luxating patellas. The most common causes are a shallow groove, abnormal bow-legged conformation and displacement of the attachment of the kneecap to the shin bone (tibia).
Early stages of luxating patella may not be painful and your dog may only be lame for a very short period of time when the kneecap pops out. However, over time, the episodes of lameness may increase due to the progression of this disease. The stability of the joint will deteriorate and this leads to the development of painful arthritis and may even put your pet at risk of other injuries such as an ACL tear.
Patella surgery aims to correct any anatomical defect such as deepening the femoral groove where the patella sits, loosening and/or tightening of the soft tissue in the knee to help the patella stay in the desired position and in some cases, a slight remodelling of the bone called tibial crest transposition.
Learn more about Patella Luxation here.
Cranial Cruciate Ligament Repair Surgery
The cranial cruciate ligament in dogs is known as the anterior cruciate ligament or ACL in humans. The cranial cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of many ligaments in the dog’s knee, connecting the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone) in their back legs. It has many functions, including preventing the thigh bone from sliding too far forward compared to the shin bone.
The ACL can rupture due to normal wear and weakening over time, injury or other factors including abnormal hindlimb conformation, genetics, and obesity. It is important to know that pets who tear their ACL in one of their hindlimbs are at a much higher risk of tearing their ACL in their other hindlimb in later in life.
ACL tears are often very painful (think of that last time when you had a high grade ankle sprain!). Depending on the injury of the ACL and the size of the dog, the specialist surgeon may recommend which surgery is best suited for your furbaby.
There are three different types of surgical techniques available.
- Extracapsular repair
Find out more about cruciate ligament injury here.
Do I need an appointment before my furbaby’s orthopaedic tissue surgery?
Yes! It is very important to have an appointment with one of our experienced veterinarian to discuss the best surgery and treatment plan for your furbaby. We work closely with Board Certified Orrthopaedic Surgeons who often consults with you to discuss the best surgical option. During the appointment, you are also able to discuss any concerns that you may have and our veterinarian will also discuss any preparation needed prior to the surgery, including cost, risks, and recovery.
How do I know if my furbaby needs the surgery? Eg patella luxation surgery?
Our friendly veterinarian will discuss with you during the initial consultation if surgery is the best course of action. Some issues, such as luxating patella surgery will require x-rays beforehand to evaluate the current condition of your furbaby. However, every case is different, and we aim to tailor the treatment for each furbaby to achieve the best outcome.
On the other hand, some surgeries, such as severe bone fractures will need to be managed through surgical intervention.
Can my pet go back to normal activities post surgery?
It all depends on the type of surgery that your pet has underwent and how well they are healing. Generally, we do advise pet parents to restrict their furbabies activities in the first 4-6 weeks following a procedure. Depending on the procedure performed, a thorough exercise/activity schedule will be discussed with you, which may include seeing a physiotherapist to help with your pet’s recovery.
Upon discharge of your pet’s procedure, our surgical vet will go through the activity recommendation for your furbaby because every pet is unique!
Does my pet need to wear a cone after their surgery?
Depending on the surgery but most soft tissue surgeries performed will require your furbaby to wear a recovery cone! It is very important for your pet to always wear their cone until the stitches are removed between 10-14 days. The aim of the cone is to prevent them from licking at the wound, which can cause the wound to break down, get infected, and, even worse, open the incision and cause organ damage in some cases. This will cause your pet needing another surgery!
Will my pet receive any pain relief during their surgery? Will they go home with any pain relief medication?
We strive to ensure all pets are given adequate and appropriate pain, and stress relieve medication before, during, and after surgery. Your veterinarian will tailor a pain relief medication plan best suited for your furbaby. Our aim is to create a positive and pain-free experience for them.
The main goal in having a sedation or general anaesthesia plan for your pet is to ensure that we provide appropriate pain and stress relieve medication, which in turn, will help create a positive and relaxing experience for them.
How much does the surgery cost?
Each furbaby is different, requiring different needs and unique care. Our veterinarian will provide an estimate after your consultation with them.
Will my pet go under a general anaesthetic for their procedure?
Your furbaby will definitely undergo general anaesthetic when an orthopaedic surgery is performed. Your pet will be “put under” and will be unconscious while the drugs are being administered. An endotracheal tube is usually placed to help with their breathing and administering inhalation anaesthetic agent to keep them “under.” Pets will not remember what has happened while they are under general anaesthetic.
This will not only allow our surgeons to operate safely, but it also helps create a pain-free environment and experience for your furbaby.