Orthopaedic Surgery

Orthopaedic surgery is a relatively high risk area of work when compared with more frequently routine surgery. Orthopaedic surgery is largely structural and requires the use of heavy duty tools. Franklin Vets has state of the art equipment and have invested heavily in this area to ensure we have the best tools available for the job.

  • Synthes Collibri II battery powered orthopaedic drill and saw. This combines a surgical drill, a pin driver and an orthopaedic saw all in one hand piece.
  • Electrocautery
  • Surgical suction
  • Dedicated sterile operating theatre
  • Magnifying headlight

Franklin Vets offers a range of orthopaedic treatment and surgeries for fractures, dislocations and tendon and ligament injuries.

Click on the injury for more information:

  • Long bone fractures

    Long bone fractures need stabilising to heal. This may involve an external splint or cast in the case of some fractures below the elbow or stifle joints (knee), but for anything above those joints and for many of those below that level, this is not enough, and some form of internal fixation will be necessary.

    There are a variety of options available for treating fractured bones. Sometimes we use pins inserted inside the bone, encircling wires around bone fragments, screws, external fixator frames or orthopaedic plates and screws.

  • Shoulder OCD

    Osteochondrosis dissecans (OCD) is a cartilage disease of young growing dogs. Shoulder OCD sometimes does not cause any lameness, and these cases may be managed conservatively with rest, anti-inflammatories, and chondroprotectants. However, cases which cause lameness are best treated with surgery.

    Surgery involves an approach to the back of the joint, then removing the area of diseased cartilage with a curette. The edge of the defect is cut with a scalpel to make a sharp transition between normal and diseased cartilage. Sometimes we then perform microfracturing by drilling tiny holes in the exposed bone to stimulate ingrowth of new cartilage.

  • Stifle OCD

    Osteochondrosis dissecans (OCD) is a cartilage disease of young growing dogs. Stifle OCD is a particularly unpleasant location for the disease to develop, as it always results in significant lameness.

    Surgery involves opening the stifle joint then removing the area of diseased cartilage with a curette. The edge of the defect is cut with a scalpel to make a sharp transition between normal and diseased cartilage. Sometimes we then perform microfracturing by drilling tiny holes in the exposed bone to stimulate ingrowth of new cartilage.

  • Calcaneal tendon rupture

    Rupture of the calcaneal (Achilles) tendon is an infrequent injury to dogs and cats. It can be associated with trauma, or with degenerative disease of the tendon.

    Most cases are treated surgically. This involves debriding the damaged ends of the tendon, then rejoining them with a special suture technique. The joined tendon must then be protected from strain while it heals, often using an external skeletal fixator device to immobilise the hock joint for several weeks.

  • Cruciate ligament injury

    Injuries to the cruciate ligaments in dogs are very common, especially in larger breeds of dogs, but can also affect small breeds and even cats.

    There are multiple different techniques recorded for operating on cruciate ligament injured dogs and cats. They fall into two main groups.

    1. The first group comprises using a prosthetic ligament to replace the torn or damaged ligament. This works well in small dogs.
    2. The second group involves making one or more cuts into the tibia (shin bone) to alter the angle the top of the shinbone makes to a measured line.
  • Pelvic fractures

    Fractures to the pelvis are relatively common in trauma patients, affecting both cats and dogs. Pelvic surgery can involve a combination of metal implants designed to hold the broken fragments in place while they heal.

    This can involve multiple surgical approaches to different parts of the pelvis, possibly during more than one operation. Pain control is critical, so the patient is normally on constant infusions of very strong painkillers throughout and after surgery.

  • Hip dislocation

    Dislocation of the hip normally comes from trauma such as being hit by a car or falling from a height. If treated soon after the injury, dislocated hips can sometimes be replaced under anaesthetic without surgery (closed reduction), and sometimes have bandages called Ehmer slings placed to try and keep the hip in place. Unfortunately,the risk of repeat dislocation is about 50%.

    For these cases surgery is recommended to replace the hip and stabilise it (open reduction).

    There are a variety of techniques for stabilising replaced hip joints. We have been using a suture technique for several years now, in animals ranging in size from cats to 40kg dogs, with great success.

  • Hock surgery

    Traumatic injuries to the hock (ankle) are common in dogs and cats. It is a very complicated part of the body, with multiple joints and ligaments, any and all of which can be damaged.

    Treatment depends entirely on the type of problem but Most of the injuries will require surgery to repair properly. Some ligaments need replacing with prosthetic nylon ligaments, while some damaged joints need fusing surgically and stabilising with bone plates and screws.

  • Mandibulectomy

    Some dogs and cats develop cancer on their mandibles (jawbone). Most of these cancers will require surgical removal as part of their treatment. This is a relatively complex surgery that also results in some changes to the appearance of the face however, the successful removal of cancer can be life saving for the patient.

  • Pancarpal arthrodesis

    Carpal (wrist) hyperextension injury is a severely debilitating injury mainly seen in large, active breeds of dog.

    This injury almost always requires surgery to treat, especially in dogs. The goal of treatment is to fuse the joints of the carpus by removing the articular cartilage at each level, packing bone graft in place, then stabilising the whole joint by means of a long plate and screws.

Your pets will receive professional care from our skilled veterinarians. Our fully trained staff will monitor your pet’s performance and comfort throughout the surgery with our state of the art equipment

Pain control is essential after orthopaedic surgery. Most of our patients are kept on infusions of painkillers while in the clinic, using combinations of drugs to keep them comfortable at all times.

Call Franklin Vets on 09 238 7486 to discuss the transfer of your patient to our clinic for assessment and treatment. You may be asked to bring any clinical notes, x-ray images and medications with you when you come.

Soft Tissue Surgery

This involves operating on the soft organs and tissues of the body. There is less of a structural component to this area of surgery so there is less of a need for the heavy-duty tools and more need for the gentle handling of delicate tissue. Franklin Vets has state of the art equipment and have invested heavily in this area to ensure we have the best tools available for the job:

  • Two dedicated operating theatres
  • Intensive care cages for continuous monitoring patients before and after surgery
  • Electrocautery
  • Surgical suction
  • Full range of surgical instruments including deep laparotomy and thoracotomy
  • Dedicated nursing staff for anaesthetic monitoring and post-operative care
  • Access to fresh frozen plasma and whole blood

Franklin Vets offers a number of surgical procedures.

Click on each surgery for more information:

  • Total Ear Canal Ablation with Latera Bulla Osteotomy (TECA-LBO)

    This is a major surgery for treatment of end-stage ears or cancer of the ear. End-stage ears are where the disease in the ear canals has been going for so long and is so severe, that the cartilage of the ear canal is permanently thickened, blocking the ear canal and causing unrelenting pain.

    Surgery involves removal of the entire ear canal, the ear drum, and the lateral wall of the middle ear cavity. The ear flap is usually preserved intact, though in dogs with pricked up ears it can flop over after surgery.

  • Skin grafts

    Skin grafting involves moving skin from one area of the body to another, in order to cover a defect in the skin. It can be used to treat some wounds, and also to close large surgical wounds, for example after cancer surgery.

    It is a delicate surgery, as the transferred skin must have all fat and connective tissue removed carefully first, then be sutured in such a way as to prevent movement of the graft but also without damaging blood supply to the underlying wound area.

    A successful grafting will result in healthy skin growing in the new location within a couple of weeks.

  • Cancer surgery

    Cancer surgery involves deciding whether we are going for curative intent surgery, palliative surgery, or biopsy surgery. Each option will involve a different approach, different planning, and a quite different level of surgery. It is possible that cancer surgery will be combined with chemotherapy to give your pet the best chance of recovery from the disease.

    There are likely to be requirements for working up the patient prior to surgery, involving blood tests, biopsies, xrays and possibly CT scanning to establish the extent of the cancer and its type.

  • Wound management

    Wounds come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from a variety of causes. Some are best treated by open wound management, in which the wound is cleaned and normally dressed regularly, while the tissue heals over a period of time.

    If the wound is too large to be closed, we are able to creatively move the flaps of skin around to achieve closure.

    If the wound cannot be closed by skin flaps, it would require skin grafting instead, which we are also able to do.

  • Perineal urethrostomy

    Blockage of the urethra in male cats is a common problem, and is a life-threatening condition. Without emergency treatment, these patients will develop acute renal failure and die in a matter of days.

    Treatment of the blockage normally involves stabilisation with intravenous fluids, pain killers, and possibly drugs to protect the heart from the high potassium level which develops in the blood from the obstruction.

    Perineal urethrostomy involves removing the penis and the narrow section of the urethra. Very careful and delicate dissection around the urethra into the pelvis enables the urethra to be mobilised backwards a short distance. The wider diameter urethra from the mid-pelvic region is then sutured to the skin, resulting in a wider opening externally and less chance of blockage.

  • Gastrointestinal tract surgery

    Dogs and cats require intestinal surgery for a variety of reasons and each patient will require a different level of care and surgery.

    Abdominal surgery ranges from relatively straightforward to very complex. Removing a stone from the stomach is simple, while removing a piece of string from a length of intestine is extremely challenging at times. Sometimes there are multiple procedures that need performing while in the abdomen.

  • Gastric dilation with volvulus GDV

    This highly dangerous condition involves the distension of the stomach and its rotation around its long axis. The result is a stomach that rapidly loses its blood supply, leading to death of tissue, and creating of a wide range of extremely toxic factors into the blood stream, affecting the function of all vital organs in the body.

    GDV is a surgical emergency. Treatment must commence as soon as possible, and ideally within 1-2 hours of the twist occurring. Every hour delay means more likelihood of stomach wall death, which dramatically affects survival chances.

  • Soft palate resection and alar fold resection

    Brachycephalic dogs are those with short noses, such as Bulldogs and Pugs. These dogs have issues with their respiratory passages as a result of their shortened muzzle, which results in the snorting and gurgling noises that they often make.

    The changes to their airways are divided into primary and secondary problems. The secondary problems such as elongated soft palate or everted laryngeal saccules, will worsen over time, and it is therefore best to correct as much of the primary problem as possible as early as possible in the dog’s life.

    Severe brachycephalic airway obstruction syndrome is a life-threatening emergency, especially in hot humid weather.

  • Splenectomy

    The spleen is a large organ in the abdomen that has a variety of functions. It contains a large amount of blood, which makes it prone to blood vessel cancers. It can also become twisted, abscessed, or ruptured.

    Each of these conditions will present in a different way. Some of these patients will be critical, due to blood loss into the abdomen, while others will appear quite normal (eg a benign mass on the spleen).

    There is no easy way to differentiate a benign splenic mass from a malignant one, and even under the pathologist’s microscope it can still be very difficult.

    Prior to treatment for a splenic mass, investigation with blood tests and ultrasound is essential.

    A ruptured or twisted spleen will also need a degree of patient stabilisation using fluid support, painkillers, and oxygen therapy.

  • Liver surgery

    Liver disease is common in cats and dogs. Sometimes it requires investigation using ultrasound scanning and needle biopsy while other cases require abdominal surgery in order to obtain a biopsy or remove a mass.

    Ultrasound guided biopsy of the liver can often be done with either no sedative or just some local anaesthetic.

    Full biopsy is a surgical procedure that requires some pre-planning. Blood tests to check liver function will likely already have been carried out, but we need to check blood clotting ability prior to any liver surgery.

  • Conjunctival pedicle graft

    Non-healing corneal ulcers are common in cats and dogs, and very frustrating to deal with.

    Some are treated successfully with grid or punctate keratotomy, followed by placement of a third eyelid flap.

    Some require placement of a conjunctival pedicle graft, where a flap of conjunctiva is reflected across the ulcer and sutured in place. It forms a permanent seal over the ulcer, so there is some loss of vision over the sutured part, but in general this does not affect the patient that much. The goal is to preserve the eye.

Your pets will receive professional care from our skilled veterinarians. Our fully trained staff will monitor your pet’s performance and comfort throughout the surgery with our state of the art equipment.

Call Franklin Vets on 09 238 7486 to discuss the transfer of your patient to our clinic for assessment and treatment. You may be asked to bring any clinical notes, x-ray images and medications with you when you come.