A broken leg, what now?
An accident is happened in a flash: just let the garden gate open, an inattentive driver and .... Bingo!
Fortunately, techniques exist to fix these fractures. Depending on the nature of the fracture, different techniques can be used. For each technique, the dog or cat needs to be kept calm afterwards, and extreme movements (stairs, playing, running) should not be allowed.
Fractures under the knee and the elbow that are slightly displaced can sometimes be stabilized with a splint.
This is the simplest technique for stabilizing a fracture, but it must be done with caution. An incorrectly placed splint can lead to irreparable damage to the leg.
Daily care of the splint (eg checking the toes for swelling, warmth and odor, keeping dry and keeping clean when going out) is necessary. A weekly check by your own vet is recommended.
In some types of fractures, it is not possible to fix a fracture internally and external fixation is the only option to stabilize the fracture. With external fixation, the fracture is stabilized by means of pins fixed in the bone through the skin.
Although this is a very proven technique, it asks extra efforts of the owner. The wounds should be taken care of daily and the bandage should be replaced at regular intervals.
Plate and screws
A broken bone can also be restored by placing a plate (in a special type of stainless steel) against the bone. It can be combined with an intramedullary pin and the technique can even be used to bridge larger defects in the bone (if there is too much loss of bone).
The plate is fixed internally and is fully covered by skin. In comparison with the above techniques, there is less aftercare for the owner. Because the university follows the latest techniques, we switched to "locking plates" from 2008. The entire plate and screws are fixed several millimeters from the bone, so that blood vessels can still grow in the bone. An additional advantage is that the bone / plate construction is firmer than with a classic plate.
Each fracture is different and requires a customized approach. Whether you need to put a splint, a plate or an external fixation, you are always informed why we want to make that choice for your dog or cat.