A femoral head ostectomy (FHO) can be an effective way to treat hip problems and restore pain-free mobility in both cats and dogs. In this post, our Clovis vets describe problems that could affect your pet's hip, and what’s involved in FHO surgery.
Why Your Pet May Have Hip Problems
Hip problems in cats and dogs can occur due to genetics, old age, injury, or a combination of both of those factors. FHO surgery may be suitable for pets with:
- Hip fractures that can't be repaired surgically either because of the health of the patient or the means of their owner.
- Hip dysplasia is typically a genetic disorder. Hip dysplasia causes your pet's hip joints to develop abnormally.
- Hip luxation or dislocation, often associated with serious dysplasia.
- Legg-Perthes disease is another condition that can affect your pet's hips. This condition is characterized by a lack of blood flow to the top of the femur, leading to the spontaneous degeneration of the head of the femur, resulting in arthritis and/or hip damage.
These relatively common conditions can cause mobility issues and pain for your pet. To correct the issue, orthopedic surgery may be recommended.
How Your Pet's Hip Joints Should Function
Your pet’s hip joints function as a ball and socket mechanism. The ball is located at the head of the thigh bone (femur) and rests inside the hip bone’s acetabulum (socket portion of the hip joint).
During normal hip function, the ball and socket work together allowing easy and pain-free movement. When injury or disease breaks down or disrupts your pet’s normal hip function, pain and other mobility issues can result due to rubbing and grinding between the two parts. Inflammation caused by a poorly functioning or damaged hip joint can also reduce your pet's mobility and quality of life.
Signs That Your Pet May Have Hip Issues
Your pet may be suffering from a hip problem if they show one or more of the following symptoms:
- “Bunny hopping”
- Limping when walking
- Stiffness in joints
- Muscle loss around back limbs
- Decreased tolerance or motivation to exercise or play
During the FHO surgery, the surgeon will remove the femoral head leaving the socket portion of the hip empty. Your pet's leg muscles will initially hold the femur in place as scar tissue develops between the femur and acetabulum. Gradually over a period of time a “false joint” will begin to form and scar tissue will act as a cushion between the femur and the acetabulum.
FHO Surgery Recovery
Every pet is different. Following veterinary surgery, your pet may need to stay in the veterinary hospital for several hours or several days for post-surgical care. The duration of your cat or dog's stay will depend upon your pet's overall health and a number of other factors. Recovery from FHO surgery usually happens in two phases:
In the days immediately following surgery, you and your vet will focus on controlling pain with medications such as prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These will help reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling at the surgical site.
Your pet should avoid strenuous physical activity for 30 days after surgery. Pets should not be allowed to run or jump during their recovery period, however, if you have a dog you can take your pup for short 'on-leash' walks.
If your pet is not in too much pain, your vet may recommend passive range of motion exercises to encourage your pet's hip joint to move through its natural range of motion once again.
Approximately one week after surgery, the second phase of recovery begins and will involve gradually increasing physical activity so your pet can rebuild muscle mass and strengthen the hip joint.
Gradually increasing physical activity helps to prevent scar tissue from becoming too stiff, and will improve your pet's long-term mobility. Your vet will inform you of the appropriate exercises for your pet.
Most pets recover fully within about 6 weeks of the surgery. During this period, many pets can benefit from a variety of rehabilitation techniques to help improve their range of motion and lessen pain.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.