About a Dog and His Broken Leg: How it was Fixed with Orthopedic Surgery

By April 10, 2015Uncategorized

Chulo is a lovely brown dog of an undetermined breed who came to Canada from Mexico.

He’s a happy guy who likes to chase things!

 

 

But sometimes accidents happen, and a big one did. Chulo was hit by a car. He was very lucky to have his life spared… but he ended up with a broken left front leg. His owners brought him in to us at Steeples Veterinary Clinic.

This type of bone fracture, called an open, comminuted fracture of the radius and ulna, needed surgery.

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A cast or splint was not enough in this case. After carefully looking at the x-rays and taking measurements, the veterinarian made a surgical plan and chose his materials. The goal of fracture repair surgery is to put the bones back where they belong and to hold them there very rigidly until they heal. It usually takes 6-8 weeks for the body to knit the bones back together.

So off to surgery went Chulo.

We put him under general anesthetic and carefully prepared the leg for surgery. In the operating room, the surgeon made an incision in the skin of his left front leg over the fracture area.

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He replaced the ends of the fracture into normal position, kind of like a jigsaw puzzle. This part takes a lot of tension and manoeuvering to get it just right. The closer to perfect the bone ends are, the better.

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Then the doctor placed his pre-chosen stainless steel bone plate over the fracture. He drilled holes into the bone with a drill and bit. The holes went from one side of the bone right across and out the other side. He then inserted stainless steel bone screws into the holes and screwed them down snugly. As you can imagine, placing this rigid stainless steel plate tightly across the broken area keeps the fracture ends firmly in place.

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Here’s the x-ray of Chulo’s left front leg after surgery. Can you see how the steel plate is attached to the radius bone with screws?

The incision was closed with sutures and bandaged to keep it protected.

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Now what’s next for Chulo?

He has to take some pain medication and antibiotics for a few days. He has to have his bandage changed and his sutures taken out eventually.

Most importantly, Chulo needs to take it easy! He probably feels like he can run on that leg soon after surgery, but he needs to really go slow for 6 weeks so that the bone can heal.  If he does too much too soon and puts a lot of heavy weight on that leg, he could potentially break or bend the stainless steel.

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You probably don’t think a dog would want to run after surgery, but they are surprisingly tough. And come on, chasing a squirrel or whatever else always takes precedence over any little bit of pain! This is where the owners have to really be tough and keep a dog restricted after fracture surgery. All the best wishes to Chulo for a speedy recovery!