Veterinary orthopedic surgery deals with bones, joints, muscles, and ligaments. The veterinarians at Pet Medical Center see pets almost every day with a variety of orthopedic conditions. If your pet is favoring a leg either constantly or intermittently, is having difficulty getting up, or seems to be slowing down, there may be a problem with his or her joints. Sudden limping or pain accompanied by swelling or the abnormal appearance of a leg could indicate a bone or joint injury. This could be a broken bone or torn ligament. Some pets require orthopedic surgery to correct congenital problems they are born with, not caused by injury. Many of these problems can be solved with surgery.
We diagnose the problem by combining your pet’s medical history that you give us with the results of our orthopedic and imaging (X-ray) examinations. Some of the conditions we see are minor and will heal with rest and medications. However, many orthopedic conditions that we diagnose are more complicated and require specialized treatment.
Specialty Veterinary Orthopedics in a Neighborhood Practice
At Pet Medical Center’s Chatoak location, we are pleased to be able to provide solutions to many of the complicated orthopedic problems that our pet patients have. Successful veterinary orthopedic surgery requires both expertise and experience. Fortunately, Dr. Don Morshead is a board-certified specialist in veterinary surgery with 35 years of experience. He has a special interest in veterinary orthopedic surgery and is dedicated to excellence in veterinary surgery for the benefit of you and your pet.
Rather than referring you to a large specialty hospital, we are able to provide most of the veterinary orthopedic services your pet might need right here in our neighborhood practice, including:
- ACL (cranial cruciate ligament) tears
- Fracture repairs
- Patellar luxation
- FHO surgery
- Traumatic joint dislocations
- OCD surgery
“My dog has a fracture. What does that mean? Is it better to have a fracture than a broken bone?” “Fracture” is the medical term for a broken bone. It does not indicate the severity of the break, only that the bone is broken. Any bone in the body can break, but the most commonly broken bones are the long bones in the legs. Dogs and cats of any age, size, or breed can break their legs. The usual cause is trauma such as being hit by a car, falling or jumping from a high place, or being stepped on. Smaller dogs with thinner bones are more susceptible to fractures since they might break a leg by jumping from a low height such as a chair or sofa.
A simple or non-displaced fracture can be repaired using a cast or splint. Complicated and displaced fractures require surgery to stabilize the broken bones and allow the body to heal the injury. The surgery is tailored to the specific needs of the individual pet patient and may involve any of the following methods:
- Plate and screw fixation—A highly technical procedure that is frequently used on long bones and the pelvis.
- Pin fixation—Used on fractures near the ends of bones (growth plate injuries) or in conjunction with other methods.
- External fixators—Pins are placed into the bones and then connected outside the skin with clamps and rods. Used on a variety of different fractures.
It takes approximately 4 to 12 weeks for fractures to heal; younger pets heal faster than older pets; toy breed dogs and patients with severe soft tissue injuries often experience delayed healing. Most fractures heal successfully when patients receive proper care at home after surgery.
ACL (Cranial Cruciate Ligament) Repairs
Cranial cruciate ligament (ACL) tears occur most commonly in young and middle-aged large breed dogs. The most commonly affected breeds are Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, Rottweilers, pit bulls, and mastiffs.
The knee is a complex joint that is held together by a series of strong ligaments. The cranial cruciate ligament, also known as anterior cruciate ligament or ACL, is the strongest and most important of these ligaments. Approximately 90% of the knee problems that occur in dogs are due to damage to the ACL. In people, it is usually an acute athletic injury that causes this ligament to rupture. In dogs, however, it is a cumulative stress problem due to the unique configuration of the dog’s knee joint. The ACL provides the most stability and is under constant stress during weight bearing. In susceptible dogs, this constant stress eventually leads to complete or partial tearing of the ligament.
Symptoms of ACL tears may include sudden lameness when your dog completely holds his or her leg off the ground, intermittent limping, or very mild limping or stiffness that progressively becomes worse.
Watch this video explaining the diagnosis of a torn ACL.
TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteoplasty)
TPLO surgery revolutionized the treatment of ACL tears (torn cranial cruciate ligament). Pet Medical Center’s Dr. Morshead was one of the first surgeons in our area to perform TPLOs and has been doing this knee surgery since 1996.
- TPLO surgery is for complete, partial, or chronic ACL tears.
- Surgery is extremely effective on dogs of most sizes (except toy breeds).
- State-of-the-art reconstructive surgery; alters the biomechanics of the joint to counteract the force that caused the ligament to tear.
- The tibia (lower knee bone) is surgically altered: the top portion (tibial plateau) is cut and rotated and then held in place with a stainless steel plate and screws.
We are pleased to be able to offer your pet this high-tech surgical procedure in our neighborhood veterinary practice.TTA (Tibial Tuberosity Advancement) TTA is the newest, most advanced surgery for ACL tears (torn cranial cruciate ligament). Developed in Switzerland, this surgery is equally as effective as TPLO. Dr. Morshead has been performing this surgery since 2008.
- TTA surgery is for complete, partial, or chronic ACL tears.
- Surgery is extremely effective on dogs of most sizes.
- Newest state-of-the-art reconstructive surgery alters the biomechanics of the knee joint to counteract the force that caused the ligament to tear. Accomplishes this in a less-invasive way than TPLO.
- Uses new lightweight titanium implants (plate and screws).
We are pleased to be able to offer your pet this high-tech surgical procedure in our neighborhood veterinary practice.