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What is Coxofemoral Disarticulation?

Coxofemoral disarticulation, or hind limb amputation, is a procedure which involves amputating the hind limb by separating the femur from the pelvis. Coxofemoral disarticulation is an effective surgical approach to hind limb amputation and has fewer complications compared to other approaches. Cats tend to recover quickly from this procedure and are able to retain a high degree of mobility despite the loss of the hind limb.

Coxofemoral Disarticulation Procedure in Cats

  1. The cat will first be anesthetized and prepped for surgery. The hind leg will be shaved and cleaned, and analgesics will be administered intravenously.
  2. A sterile drape will be placed over the leg.
  3. The surgeon will first make the incision into the skin before ligating and severing the femoral artery and vein. 
  4. The muscles located near the femoral artery and vein are then severed.
  5. The surgeon will continue severing vessels and muscles surrounding the femur until the sciatic nerve is visualized. This nerve is then severed.
  6. The femur and the muscles surrounding it are removed.
  7. The surgeon will then suture the remaining muscles surrounding the hip before suturing the skin incision.
  8. The cat will then be hospitalized for up to seven days.
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Efficacy of Coxofemoral Disarticulation in Cats

The efficacy of amputation will vary depending on the condition it is being used to treat. However, for most cases, amputation is curative of the condition. It should be noted that there are fewer complications associated with coxofemoral disarticulation compared to other types of amputation surgery. Additionally, cats are better able to retain a normal degree of mobility with a hind limb amputation compared to a front limb amputation. Cats will use their tails to assist with balancing following amputation.

 

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Coxofemoral Disarticulation Recovery in Cats

Owners should follow their veterinarian’s postoperative care instructions carefully. Analgesics, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed for the recovery period. For the first two days following surgery, cats should be confined to a small space and not allowed outdoors. Cats should not be allowed to access stairs or slippery surfaces such as hardwood floors. Activity should be avoided for up to four weeks following surgery or as instructed by the vet. An Elizabethan collar is required so that the cat does not irritate the surgery site. A follow-up appointment to remove the sutures will be scheduled for ten to fourteen days postoperatively.

Most cats tend to make a rapid recovery following coxofemoral disarticulation. Cats are typically able to regain some degree of mobility within two weeks following surgery, and may not require analgesics or anti-inflammatory medications after this period.

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Cost of Coxofemoral Disarticulation in Cats

The cost of coxofemoral disarticulation will vary based on standards of living and additional costs incurred. The cost of coxofemoral disarticulation, including diagnostic testing and imaging, ranges from $800 to $2,500.

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Cat Coxofemoral Disarticulation Considerations

Animals will generally not experience phantom pains following limb amputation. Complications are possible with any surgical procedure. Complications of coxofemoral disarticulation may include, but are not limited to:

  • Bruising at the incision site
  • Postoperative infection
  • Neuromas: Masses of tissue that form on the end of nerves following amputation
  • Anesthetic death

Bruising tends to resolve within a few days following surgery. Infection can be treated conservatively with antibiotics. One of the most serious complications of coxofemoral disarticulation is the formation of neuromas. These are very painful for the cat and may require a second surgery, although they can sometimes be treated with pain medication. Anesthetic death is uncommon, particularly since patients are required to undergo a preoperative evaluation for anesthetization.

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Coxofemoral Disarticulation Prevention in Cats

Some conditions which warrant amputation are nearly impossible to prevent, particularly bone cancer and infection. It is imperative that owners prevent their cats from engaging in activities that may result in significant trauma to the hind limb(s).

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Coxofemoral Disarticulation Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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