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Did you know that dogs and cats are able to have their hip joints surgically removed and still walk normally?

Hip Joint Removal

Did you know that dogs and cats are able to have their hip joints surgically removed and still walk normally? This orthopedic surgery helps animals enjoy pain-free, functional hips.

Hip joints are similar in animals and humans. The upper leg bone (femur) runs up from the knee to the hip. At the top end, the femur bone end resembles a ball. This is the head of the femur. The head fits into a socket in the pelvis. This type of joint allows a wide range of motion, which you can appreciate when you move your own leg.

The head of the femur is held in the socket by a ligament. In dogs with hip dysplasia, the joint is looser than it should be, allowing the head to rattle around in the socket. This leads to bone and cartilage damage, resulting in painful arthritis.

The arthritic pain that develops secondary to hip dysplasia or that results after trauma can be alleviated with surgery. Pets with broken head of the femur, a fractured socket or a chronic dislocated hip can receive pain relief by having surgery. The procedure widely used in smaller dogs and cats is called an excision arthroplasty.

An excision involves cutting off the head of the femur. In people, this is impossible. We stand with full weight on our hips so an intact hip joint is required. In human surgery, severe hip problems are corrected by placing an artificial hip. This can be done in larger breeds that have heavier weight bearing in the hips, but it is more expensive, and is done only at referral centers.

In medium-to-small dogs and cats, an incision arthroplasty is much simpler. Though not without possible complications, the surgical recovery and healing tend to be uneventful. The severed bone end is supported by and rides in the plentiful muscle mass surrounding the pelvis. The source of pain - the joint itself - is eliminated. There are many pets running around without hip joints, you just can\'t tell which ones!

Reprinted with permission from

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