Femoral Head and Neck Ostectomy (FHO)
What is a Femoral Head and Neck Ostectomy?
The hip is a ball and socket joint, with the femoral head (the upper part of the leg) being the ball and the acetabulum (a portion of the pelvis) comprising the socket. Femoral head and neck ostectomy is a surgical procedure in which we remove the ball portion and the attachment (neck) portion from the rest of the femur, which in essence removes the hip joint. The body forms a ‘new hip’ in the months following surgery. But unlike the normal contact of bone and cartilage, the new hip is a collection of scar tissue with additional support from the surrounding muscles and joint capsule.
FHO is a surgical treatment for hip disorders such as a fractured hip, hip dysplasia, hip luxation, and Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease in small dogs (less than 50 lbs) and cats. These animals are usually too small for the smallest hip replacement available for animals.
What is the Aftercare?
In contrast to many of our other orthopedic surgeries, early use of the leg after surgery is important to allow for the best possible outcome. In many pets this will require owners to perform physical therapy, utilizing techniques such as range of motion exercises and swimming. Physical therapy is started as soon as pets will allow, usually after suture removal 7-10 days post surgery.
Will my pet walk normally on the leg after surgery?
FHO is an excellent treatment to eliminate hip pain. However, because the natural hip is gone, the leg may not be as strong as a normal leg. This decrease in strength is difficult or impossible to notice in cats and small dogs, but it may be more obvious in large and giant breed dogs. Small dogs and cats usually have an excellent outcome after FHO, where as large and giant breeds will keep a distinct gait difference.
Are there any Risks or Complications?
There are few risks or complications with the FHO surgery. Be sure to discuss them at your appointment. We would like to have current, pertinent blood work to assess the risk for general anesthesia. The risk is usually very low for healthy animals with normal blood work. It is further reduced by local pain control during anesthesia, which is accomplished by epidural anesthesia.
Overall, some pets recover very quickly with little need for owners' assistance, but other animals need intensive physical therapy. Lean and fit animals tend to recover quicker than overweight and weaker pets.