Excision Arthroplasty in Cats

Excision Arthroplasty in Cats - Conditions Treated, Procedure, Efficacy, Recovery, Cost, Considerations, Prevention

What is Excision Arthroplasty?

Excision arthroplasty is a surgical procedure used to excise, or remove, a joint. This is usually performed if a joint is not capable of healing on its own, or if preserving it proves impossible. Conservative treatment is almost always recommended as a first course of treatment. Excision arthroplasty will usually be considered if the underlying condition does not respond to medical treatment.

The hip joint is the most common joint in a cat’s body which will require excision arthroplasty. This procedure is then known as femoral head and neck ostectomy (FHO). During excision arthroplasty of the hip, the surgeon will remove one or both of the femoral head and neck of the hip joint, which are located on either side of a cat’s pelvis. Fibrous tissue will grow in their place, and will support the hip.

Excision Arthroplasty Procedure in Cats

Cats undergoing excision arthroplasty will be prohibited from eating, typically for twelve to twenty-four hours, prior to surgery. Owners should follow preoperative dietary changes carefully.

  1. First, the surgeon or veterinarian will conduct preoperative blood tests to confirm anesthetization is safe for the cat.
  2. The surgeon will administer anesthesia prior to placing a catheter and breathing tube.
  3. The hip will be shaved, cleaned, clipped, and draped.
  4. Analgesics will be administered intravenously throughout the surgery.
  5. Using a scalpel, the surgeon will make the initial skin incision.
  6. The surrounding subcutaneous tissue and muscles will be retracted, or gently separated along their natural edges, so that the surgeon can visualize the hip joint.
  7. The surgeon will make an incision into the joint capsule.
  8. The femoral neck will then be identified and removed using an osteotome, or bone cutter.
  9. Prior to removing the femoral head, the surgeon will ensure no rough or sharp edges remain.
  10. The round ligament and femoral head are then removed.
  11. A sterile saline solution is used to flush the surgery site.
  12. The muscles and subcutaneous tissues will then be sutured prior to closure of the incision site.
  13. Postoperative x-rays will be taken to ensure the entire femoral head and neck were removed.

Efficacy of Excision Arthroplasty in Cats

The efficacy of excision arthroplasty will depend on the underlying condition and the overall health of the cat. Excision arthroplasty is generally considered safe and effective. Fibrous tissue will naturally develop in place of the femoral head and neck during the recovery period. This tissue will support the hip much like the joint would. Within two weeks following surgery, most cats are able to bear some weight on the affected limb. Generally, cats will fully recover from this procedure within two to three months.

Excision Arthroplasty Recovery in Cats

Analgesics and anti-inflammatory medications will be prescribed to manage pain and inflammation of the hip. Antibiotics are not usually prescribed since infection is rare with orthopedic surgery. An Elizabethan collar and/or bandage may be required to prevent the cat from irritating the surgery site. Excision arthroplasty is different from most major surgeries in that cats are not required to rest during the recovery period. In fact, exercising is encouraged during the recovery period to restore normal hip function. Rehabilitation therapy may also be recommended for this purpose. A follow-up appointment will be scheduled for ten to fourteen days following surgery to remove the sutures. Another follow-up appointment will be scheduled for two months after surgery to monitor healing.

Cost of Excision Arthroplasty in Cats

The cost of excision arthroplasty will vary based on standards of living and additional costs incurred, including diagnostic testing, supportive care, and rehabilitation therapy. The national average cost of excision arthroplasty is $1,000.

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Cat Excision Arthroplasty Considerations

Excision arthroplasty is often used to treat congenital hip dysplasia. However, this condition should not be treated with surgery until the bones have fully developed, around nine or ten months of age. It should be noted that the affected limb will be slightly shorter following surgery. This is normal, but does not usually affect walking or limb function. 

It is imperative that cats undergo proper rehabilitation. A poor range of motion in the affected hip will result from improper rehabilitation. Owners should follow their surgeon’s rehabilitation instructions and/or recommendations carefully.

Complications with FHO and excision arthroplasty are rare, but possible. Sciatic nerve damage is a possible complication. Infection may also occur, although this is considered extremely rare in orthopedic surgery.

Excision Arthroplasty Prevention in Cats

Genetic and congenital conditions which warrant excision arthroplasty cannot be prevented. Situations in which cats can experience traumatic injury, such as jumping from heights or playing near roads, should be avoided.

Excision Arthroplasty Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals


Orange tabby




3 Years


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My pet has the following symptoms:
Limp Hind Legs, Crying When Handled
Our cat Beatrix has hip dysplasia. We took her in for x-rays and one of her sockets is malformed and not doing it's job. The problem went from just not being able to jump on the bed to we can hardly pick her up because she's in so much pain. My question is how good are the success rates? What can we expect after she's fully healed? And if you have any suggestions surgery-wise for cats with one socket vs both and is there any supplements out there such as fish oil or cbd that could help? Any help is much appreciated, thank you

Sept. 15, 2018

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1 Year


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My pet has the following symptoms:
Avoids Weight On Leg
Small Lump Under Cut
Often Sits/Lays On Side
Hello, my cat had an EXCISION ARTHROPLASTY operation on one of his hips 2 weeks ago. I was wondering what movement he should have in his leg by now, as he often avoids putting weight on it, often falls on his side in the middle of walking and wen he sits it can often look to be an odd angle.

Aug. 10, 2018

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I’m assuming that the procedure done was a femoral head and neck ostectomy; however two weeks is still early after the surgery as a false joint needs to form where the femoral head and neck were removed. Generally we look at the four to six week range but you should ensure that Smudge’s movement is restricted and that you are following instructions from your Veterinarian (if you didn’t get any call them). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 11, 2018

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