Femoral Head and Neck Ostectomy in Cats

Femoral Head and Neck Ostectomy in Cats - Conditions Treated, Procedure, Efficacy, Recovery, Cost, Considerations, Prevention
Femoral Head and Neck Ostectomy in Cats - Conditions Treated, Procedure, Efficacy, Recovery, Cost, Considerations, Prevention

What is Femoral Head and Neck Ostectomy?

The term 'ostectomy' refers to the surgical removal of bone from a body. The femoral head and neck form the top of the femur, the part of the thigh bone that fits into the hip joint. Some conditions can cause a weakening of this joint, as well as severe pain. To alleviate this, vets may opt to surgically remove the femoral head and neck from an affected cat, thereby stopping its pain and providing an opportunity for the joint to continue working (albeit in a manner that is not bone-to-bone). It should be noted that femoral head and neck ostectomy is by no means a primary method of care, and is commonly regarded as a last resort when other techniques have failed.

Femoral Head and Neck Ostectomy Procedure in Cats

Before starting the operation, the cat will be immobilized via the use of a general anesthetic before being prepared for the procedure by having a patch on its hip shaved and disinfected. The surgeon will then make an incision in the skin and pull it back to reveal the joint beneath. The next step is to cut the femoral head and neck away from the femur itself. This can be done either with one cut or by using a saw to divide the bone into smaller pieces for ease of removal, depending on the vet's personal preferences and individual training. After this has been done, the incision is sutured shut and disinfected and the cat is allowed to wake up.

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Efficacy of Femoral Head and Neck Ostectomy in Cats

It will take some time before the full results of the operation become apparent. This is mainly due to the fact that there is a long period of healing and rehabilitation that follows the procedure and the results of this recovery will determine how useful the hip joint is in future. In most cases though, the cat can be expected to regain the use of the joint and enjoy a surprising amount of mobility for the rest of its life. Some people may wish to pursue a total hip replacement as an alternative to the ostectomy, claiming that it allows both a faster recovery and a more natural range of motion to be retained. Whilst these points are somewhat true, it should be remembered that prosthetic hips can cause cats to develop more problems with the connective tissues in a joint, causing more pain than is warranted.

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Femoral Head and Neck Ostectomy Recovery in Cats

Following surgery, it will be necessary for owners to limit the amount of exercise their cat tries to engage in. Extensive physical therapy will be necessary for the cat to properly develop the tissues that will give it full control over the joint; a process that could take several months. The animal will also require painkillers and antibiotics until the wound is fully healed, which could take as long as four weeks (or longer if the cat is particularly old). To prevent the cat from tearing out its stitches, the owner will have to take measures such as removing potentially dangerous clutter from its living area and fitting the animal with an 'e-collar' so that it does not bite the wound open.

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Cost of Femoral Head and Neck Ostectomy in Cats

The cost of a femoral head ostectomy can be quite high, with costs varying widely depending on things such as the age of the cat being operated on (with older animals being more expensive) and the availability of the required skills in your area. Most operations of this type will cost between $1,500 and $3,000. A total hip replacement, by contrast, can be expected to cost at least $4,000 due to the need for prosthetic components to be obtained and fitted.

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Cat Femoral Head and Neck Ostectomy Considerations

Although the operation can have very positive results for the cat (both in terms of pain reduction and in terms of increased mobility), there are some risks that are part and parcel of the procedure. Foremost amongst them is the risk that the joint will become useless due to healing badly after the ostectomy. Although there is always a chance that the cat may lose the ability to effectively make use of the joint, if the proper aftercare procedures are observed and the appropriate physiotherapy regimen is followed, the animal will heal properly. The second risk factor is the ability for the surgical wound to become infected due to the cat's propensity to lie on its side. However, this can easily be prevented by making sure the animal's living environment is kept clean for the duration of the recovery process (though the wound itself will usually close within four weeks).

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Femoral Head and Neck Ostectomy Prevention in Cats

Hip dysplasia happens due to an inherited defect, meaning that it is purely a matter of genetics whether or not the cat develops the condition in later life. Damage to the femoral head is also hard to predict, as it will typically happen as a result of blunt force trauma (such as that from being hit by a vehicle). Although some owners try to minimize this possibility by confining the cat to the house, this too can cause joint problems, as a good amount of exercise is imperative for helping a cat to maintain a healthy body.

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Femoral Head and Neck Ostectomy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Belbel

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moggie

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4 Years

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Has Symptoms

Limping

Dear dr, I have a 4 years old cat, whose hip bone was broken 2 years ago. she got screws but recently started to limp heavily and be in pain. as a solution, the vet is suggesting femoral head removal. I am a bit concerned: as she has had her hip injured for two years now, she has been trying to avoid it - bunny hopping, pulling herself with front legs and also we stopped letting her out to prevent bigger issues. But that also means her muscle is degrading. If they remove the femoral head - would a muscle which was not really used for two years strong enough to hold everything together? after the op, do we need to keep her in cage rest for 6 weeks, de we need to be with her non-stop? thank you so much in advance!

Aug. 18, 2018

Belbel's Owner

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0 Recommendations

In cats with hip disorders, femoral head and neck ostectomy is normally a good solution as the joint is removed and a false joint forms which allows cats and small dogs to regain movement without pain. I cannot see why Belbel would be a suitable candidate for this surgery but it is down to your Veterinarian to determine suitability; after the surgery, strict cage rest is recommended for four to eight weeks but you don’t need to monitor her 24/7 during that time. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 18, 2018

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Spork

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Maine

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9 Months

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0 found helpful

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Has Symptoms

Limp Leg, Curled Foot

It's been 5-6 weeks since the operation. Her leg is mostly limp and non weight bearing, she doesn't lift it, she doesn't jump, her paw is curled over and she uses the top like a stump more than the bottom like a foot. Sometimes I see a small bit of improvement after we have done some physio with her but its so fleeting. She is only 8mo old. I really thought recovery would be quicker. I called the vet 2 weeks in and he said it just takes time and to make sure we do the physio. Is it just slow or is something wrong?

July 1, 2018

Spork's Owner

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0 Recommendations

Generally femoral head and neck ostectomy is a successful surgery with dogs walking almost normally between weeks six and eight, however each case is different and without examining Spork myself I cannot comment on his progress. For now, continue the physiotherapy and check in with your Veterinarian to monitor improvement. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 1, 2018

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