What is Partial Pelvectomy and Limb Amputation?

Partial pelvectomy in dogs refers to the surgical removal of part of the pelvis from the body. It is often combined with the amputation of one or more of a dog's hind limbs, as these will lack the ability to function properly without the structure of the pelvis supporting them and can cause additional health problems. Such a procedure is viewed by vets as a last resort, only to be used when alternative treatments have failed and the condition is potentially life-threatening (i.e. infection or cancer). However, by leaving the dog with part of its pelvis and one limb intact, the vet can still allow the animal to exercise and move with some degree of ease.

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Partial Pelvectomy and Limb Amputation Procedure in Dogs

The dog will first be placed under a general anesthetic and have a portion of its lower body shaved and cleaned in preparation for the surgery. Next, the surgeon will make an incision from the thigh to around the hip joint and pull back the skin to reveal the tissues below, allowing the leg to be amputated at this point. The muscles around the targeted part of the pelvis will then be pulled back, exposing the bone below and allowing the surgeon to remove the relevant portion. Major blood vessels are one of the last things to be severed, preventing extended blood loss. Finally, the muscles are put back in position to shield the internal organs and the skin is sutured closed after surgical drains have been installed to stop a buildup of fluids. 

Efficacy of Partial Pelvectomy and Limb Amputation in Dogs

The operation will generally end the immediate threat to the dog's well being posed by the underlying condition. That said, the chances of a good recovery are significantly higher for younger dogs than for old ones, meaning that the procedure is not always a guaranteed success. That said, the operation can be much more effective than alternatives such as debridement or simple chemotherapy/radiotherapy, where the infection or cancer will often be too widespread to effectively combat without causing significant damage to the dog.

Partial Pelvectomy and Limb Amputation Recovery in Dogs

Following the procedure, the dog will need to receive regular doses of both antibiotics and painkillers. This is because the large scale of the surgery leaves much opportunity for infections to take hold and pain to cast a pall over the healing process. The dog will also need regular follow-up visits to the vet and may need to be kept in the clinic for some time for observation (typically under seven days). Most dogs will be walking confidently again within a few weeks, with some larger breeds possibly needing additional assistance to get used to the change to their body. 

Cost of Partial Pelvectomy and Limb Amputation in Dogs

The partial pelvectomy and hind limb amputation is an intricate procedure, requiring a high level of skill on the part of the surgeon and a significant amount of time to complete. Because of this, the price can often be expected to reach over $2,000 for the operation alone, with aftercare treatment and medications only adding to the bill. Alternative methods such as debridement and radiotherapy can be significantly less expensive, but due to their relative lack of effectiveness, can run the risk of allowing the underlying condition to spiral out of control.

Dog Partial Pelvectomy and Limb Amputation Considerations

Whilst limb amputation and partial pelvectomy is a very effective method of dealing with serious localized health problems in the lower body, it can appear almost too drastic for some dog owners. One of the most common questions raised regarding the procedure is whether the dog will be capable of walking properly afterwards. Although the animal will have some difficulty walking at first (which is especially true with larger breeds), over time they will regain much of their former mobility, though they will obviously never be quite as capable as they were before. Other owners are often worried that without a portion of the pelvis, the dog will feel discomfort as pressure is put on the lower internal organs. Fortunately, this is mostly avoided by leaving the majority of the large muscles in place, providing a significant 'cushion' for the dog's lower body.

Partial Pelvectomy and Limb Amputation Prevention in Dogs

The injuries that typically result in a vet having to perform a pelvectomy or amputation are most often caused by collisions with motor vehicles. By training their dog to be aware of the dangers associated with roads and vehicles, owners can help mitigate the dangers posed by these obstacles when the dog is being taken for walks etc. Aggressive infections can also be dealt with by taking the animal to the vet as soon as the condition's symptoms begin to manifest. Catching an infection in its early stages will make it much easier to fight off and will prevent it from spreading through the body.