What if my pet has a broken leg?

By October 9, 2014Blog

A broken bone or fracture is a complete or incomplete break in the continuity of a bone. There usually is also damage to surrounding soft tissues such as blood supply or muscles. There can also be damage to local nerves.

First priority is to evaluate overall condition and stabilize your pet. Diagnosis of a fracture is dependent on accurate history, clinical symptoms, physical examination and radiographs.

Fractures can be classified by:  1. Cause [direct force such as hit by a car, indirect force such as twisting of an elbow, diseases such as cancer or poor nutrition, or repeated stress such as racing greyhounds].  2. If external wound is present [open fracture] or if there is no external wound [closed fracture]. 3. Location of fracture [bone involved], shape of fracture and severity of fracture.

Your pet will most likely be painful, there can be a deformity or angulation of the bone, the area can be swollen and you can feel crepitus [rubbing of bone fragments] at the site. The goal of treatment is early weight bearing and return to normal function. This is accomplished with anatomical reduction [return fragments to original position], stable fixation, preserve blood flow and early pain free mobilization of adjacent muscles and joints.

Treatment options include closed or open reduction. Closed reduction includes splints or casts. Open reduction requires anesthesia and surgery. Open reduction directly immobilizes the bones with pins, plates, wires or screws.

Please discuss your treatment options for your pet with your primary care veterinarian. Every patient has unique problems.

-Dr. Lesley Phillips