For this discussion a fracture is a broken bone as a result of injury or trauma. The repair or reconstruction to normal use of the broken bone can be reasonably straight forward to very complex.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Can any veterinarian repair fractures?
Not all veterinarians are surgeons and to increase the chances of a successful outcome you should seek an qualified surgeon, properly equipped and who has many years of experience in repairing similar cases.
Is splinting a way to heal fractures in bones?
Generally, no. Rarely is this successful and can lead to other more serious concerns. The biggest impediment to a bone healing is movement (however small) at the fracture site. Splinting almost, always cannot prevent this movement. If after 6 weeks a splint the bone is not healed, then the limb is weak, muscles have wasted away and then a more complicated surgery becomes necessary, with less guarantee of success. This is one of the most common type of second opinion cases which are seen at our practice.
Is splinting alright for young animals?
Usually no, because splints restrict the normal growth and development of joints and tendons, etc. creating a restricted range of motion and abnormal limb for the life of the pet.
How complicated is fracture surgery?
All orthopedic surgery has a level of complication. First, it requires an accurate assessment of imaging (x-rays). Then, a complete knowledge of anatomy is needed as the surgeon is meticulously separating muscles and tendons as well as, protecting vital blood vessels and nerves throughout the surgery. Then everything is put back in place to create normal function and a good cosmetic appearance.
What special equipment is needed for this type of surgery?
a) A complete inventory of implants, plates and screws of all sizes from cats and Chihuahuas to the largest Great Dane.
b) Very specialized instruments. Instruments that may cost upwards of $700.00 and only have one function, (for instance, holding a plate to a bone to permit drilling the bone to allow screws to be placed. A surgeon will need different sizes of such instrumentation as bones vary greatly in size. It is not unusual to have available in excess of $50,000.00 to $75,000.00 of orthopedic surgical equipment and inventory and why very few practices are suited to this type of surgery.
Can all bones be repaired?
Generally, yes, including broken backs. The exception is a bone so badly shattered that reconstruction is impossible.
What about amputation?
Amputation is the very, very last resort. This rarely is a consideration with broken bones. Unfortunately, this is all too commonly recommended by veterinarians who lack experience and instrumentation to correct the fracture. You should always seek a second opinion of this is suggested to you. Over the years we have returned many, many pets to running and playing on all four legs. That would not have been the case had owners accepted the first advice of amputation.
But isn’t surgery very expensive?
Unfortunately there is no denying that there are significant costs involved. However, Kahala Pet Hospital will always review each case and x-rays as a second opinion, at NO COST Further, we will match any other estimate LESS 5% provided that the estimate is for comparable surgery. Beyond that, we will try to work with you as best we can.
Our passion is to return your pet to normal pain free function, and will do everything in our power to achieve that goal.