Franklin Vets Blog
Never too old
Jack is a great little Miniature Fox Terrier who has been running around the district for 17 years.
A couple of days before the end of 2020 Jack got into a scrap with a larger dog and dislocated his hip. This was replaced in the socket, but two weeks later Jack was still very lame. The hip had dislocated again.
The hip joint is a classic ball-and-socket joint, held in place by a tight ligament connecting the middle of the ball to the socket. When the hip dislocates, this ligament tears, removing the main stabiliser of the joint. “Closed” reduction of the hip involves manipulating the joint back in place, but it has a 50% failure rate. “Open” reduction involves surgically cleaning out tissue from the socket, replacing the ball, then stabilising it with one of a number of techniques.
Jack presented problems due to his advanced age, which increases risks for surgery and recovery, and the potential for the hip to have been out of place for a couple of weeks. They become progressively more difficult to fix the longer they have been out of the joint.
He had a battery of blood tests performed on our in-clinic analysers, showing he was remarkably fit for his age.
We then x-rayed the pelvis to check for any other injuries, and planned our surgical approach.
Surgery involved carefully entering the joint, clearing out all the fibrous tissue that had formed in the socket, then gently levering the hip back into place. To stabilise it, a double band of nylon suture is placed between the top of the femur (through a small hole drilled in the bone) and normally attached to a tendon on the pelvis just in front of the hip joint. Given Jack’s advanced age, it was decided this was not likely to be strong enough to hold, so a suture anchor was placed in the bone as well, and the nylon tied to that.
Jack was then kept strictly rested for three weeks while the soft tissues around the joint reformed, and after that was back to his normal active self.
So active in fact, that just a few weeks later he got run over by a car and suffered a pretty severe injury to a front leg. The story of how Jack was treated and recovered from that adventure will have to wait for another article!
Open hip reduction is an excellent technique for replacing and stabilising a dislocated hip joint. Previously, we used to cut the ball off the femur for all these cases, resulting in a functional limb but no hip joint. We still do this for some cases, but where possible we prefer to replace and stabilise the joint now, giving them a normal functioning limb.