Fracture Repairs (Orthopaedics)
Our vets are very experienced at mending broken bones and other orthopaedic procedures. Our surgeons regularly attend workshops and conferences to keep themselves up to date with the latest surgical techniques. We have several different technologies available for mending broken bones so we can mend even the most complicated of fractures. Each fracture is different and is accurately assessed before choosing the most appropriate technique. Where appropriate we also use bone grafting material to encourage bone healing. As with all our surgical procedures pain relief is very important to us and we use a variety of pain relief procedures including local nerve blocks, epidurals and constant intravenous infusion with morphine.
Gone are the days when a simple plaster-cast was applied to a broken leg and the fingers held tightly crossed to see if it would heal. Sometimes they did heal and sometimes they didn't. The trouble with casts is that they just don't hold the fractured ends of a bone still enough. If there is too much movement at the fracture site then the bone just will not heal. Another problem with casts is that they pretty much always cause friction rubs which are painful to the animal and require ongoing treatment once the cast has been removed. This can become very expensive. Nowadays casts are reserved for very simple, stable fractures in young dogs where the bone is expected to heal quickly. We also use them sometimes on fractured toes and to help protect ligaments after surgical repair.
The more modern way to treat fractured legs is surgical stabilisation with pins, plates, screws, wires, rods and clamps. There are a variety of surgical fixation techniques and each has its merit for a given situation. Surgical techniques are advancing all the time and at The Vet Centre we make sure we keep up with the most recent trends including external fixation apparatus. External fixation can be used in complicated fractures that would be difficult or impossible to mend using alternative techniques. External fixation uses pins which pass through the bones and are rigidly held in place with an external scaffolding system.They provide excellent stabilisation of even the most severe fractures.
The actual technique chosen to fix a particular fracture depends not only on the fracture itself but also on other things that can greatly affect bone healing. Young, healthy bones heal fast whereas old bones are slow especially if the animal has other health problems. Large, active dogs need a much more solid repair technique than does a small, quiet dog. The slower the bone is expected to heal the stronger the repair technique needs to be.
One of the most important things that affect bone healings is the follow-up care after surgery. It is important to follow your vet's instructions carefully with regards to cage rest, keeping bandages clean and dry and returning to the clinic for revisits at the correct time. There is nothing more frustrating for us than seeing all our hard work in surgery being wasted due to poor aftercare.