What is Coxofemoral Disarticulation?

Dogs who have suffered severe trauma to their hind legs or that have been diagnosed with certain bone cancers or central nervous system damage may need to have one of their hind legs amputated. Hind limb amputation may be a last resort for many pet owners, but sometimes it is the only treatment choice or the only affordable option. Amputation may be seen as a drastic measure, but removing the hind limb can often preserve your dog’s quality of life.

Coxofemoral disarticulation is one of the methods used to amputate a dog’s hind leg and involves removing the limb at the coxofemoral joint, which connects the hip bone and the femur. This is a very serious surgery that is irreversible, so it’s important to thoroughly understand the procedure. Most veterinary surgeons will perform this procedure, but it’s recommended that you find one who specializes in orthopedic surgery.

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Coxofemoral Disarticulation Procedure in Dogs

Hind limb amputation is a serious surgery that requires general anesthesia, so the vet will need to make sure your dog is healthy enough to handle it. To do this, the vet will perform  pre-operative testing a few days before the surgery, including a complete blood count, blood chemistry profile, and urinalysis. He will also take X-rays of the other hind limb to ensure it is strong enough to carry the weight of the dog on its own.

The procedure is as follows:

  • Anesthesia is administered
  • Area around the incision will be shaved and sterilized
  • The surgical team will drape the area
  • The surgeon will make an incision into the skin, transect the muscles, sever the femoral nerve, incise the joint capsule, and sever the ligament to remove the hind limb.
  • Surgical sutures will be used to close the wound, and will remain in place for several weeks while the dog recovers. 
  • Your dog will be closely monitored until he regains consciousness to ensure there are no complications associated with the administration of anesthesia. 

Efficacy of Coxofemoral Disarticulation in Dogs

Most dogs that have had a hind limb amputated return to their normal level of physical activity and experience the same quality of life that they had before the surgery. 

Hind limb amputation is not reversible, so it is important to discuss the surgery in great detail with your veterinarian to ensure it is the most effective treatment option for your dog. You may want to explore other options, such as pursuing radiation and chemotherapy to treat bone cancers, before deciding to move forward with amputation. However, in many cases amputation is the only treatment option available to save your dog’s life.

Coxofemoral Disarticulation Recovery in Dogs

Following the surgery, your dog will be placed on both pain medication and antibiotics to make him more comfortable and prevent complications. The vet may ask to keep him for up to 72 hours to monitor his heart rate, respiratory rate, body temperature, and blood clotting times. The vet will require one to two follow-up visits to see how well the wound is healing and remove the sutures. If two visits are required, the first will be about three days after the surgery, and the second will be about two weeks after that.

Once your dog has been released to you, it’s important to keep him calm and comfortable until his sutures have been removed two weeks after the surgery. He will also need to wear a cone so he doesn’t feel tempted to bite or lick his sutures. If your dog is having trouble adjusting to life without a limb, talk to the vet about slings or carts that may be available to help him get around while he recovers. 

Keep your dog’s bedding as clean as possible to prevent the possibility of a bacterial infection in the wound. You should also keep a close eye on the wound to check for blood, pus, bruising, or swelling. If anything looks unusual, contact your vet and see if you should bring your dog in for a quick check-up.

Cost of Coxofemoral Disarticulation in Dogs

The average cost of the amputation procedure is between $700 and $1,000. Amputation is usually the more affordable treatment option for dogs that have suffered severe trauma. The price may be higher if complications arise that require your dog to stay under the care of a veterinarian. For example, if your dog does not react well to the anesthesia, the vet may need to monitor him for a day or two to ensure he is stable.

Besides the cost of the surgery, you will also need to pay for post-operative medications prescribed the veterinarian. This typically includes antibiotics and pain relievers, which should cost between $30 and $80 total.

Dog Coxofemoral Disarticulation Considerations

After the amputation, be sure to follow the vet’s instructions closely and bring your dog in for follow-up visits as needed. The wound may become infected, but this can be easily prevented by keeping the dog and his environment as clean as possible during recovery.

Dogs will have to get used to balancing themselves and walking without one of their hind legs. But, this shouldn’t concern you. Dogs will quickly adjust to their new normal, and most will be able to live the same active lifestyle they enjoyed prior to the surgery. 

Coxofemoral Disarticulation Prevention in Dogs

It is difficult to prevent the need for hind limb amputation because the conditions that require it are often out of the dog owner’s control. For example, it is impossible for a dog owner to protect his dog from bone cancers that could lead to hind leg amputation. However, some trauma cases could lead to amputation if the owner fails to bring the dog in for treatment as soon as possible. If your dog has been injured, quickly take him into a vet to reduce the likelihood of needing  hind leg amputation.