SURGERY BEFORE & AFTERS
Radius Ulna Fracture Surgery
Radius-ulna fractures are one of the most common breaks in the fore-limb of small breed puppies and cats. Puppies can break their legs just by jumping down a single stair or off the sofa, and cats from falling out of a high-rise building (more common than you imagine!). It is equivalent of breaking your forearm above the wrist.
Traditionally, the break is located within a few millimetres of the growth plate in the young dogs and you have very little area in which to apply the fixation device. 70% of breaks that do not have orthopaedic plates of external fixators applied (ie are splinted or fixed with a single pin) will not heal.
T-plates (called such because they are in the shape of a T) are applied to the main weight-bearing bone (the radius) and have an excellent success rate of healing. The ulna is generally left untouched and heals naturally as the radius now acts as an internal splint.
The post-op x-ray was taken with a dental portable unit during the surgery so that the fracture can be assessed perfectly prior to closing the incision.
At USVC we have the plates and screw sets from 1mm in size (for less than 2kg puppies) right up to the big 4.5mm sizes (for dogs over 30kg)
Growth plate fractures of the femur usually occur just above the knee in young dogs and cats. As a general rule they are pinned because of the minimal damage that is done to the growth plate. A growth plate is an uncalcified area of the bone where the bones extend from. This particular growth plate is responsible for more than 60% of the bone length, so to damage it means the leg may not reach the proper length of the undamaged leg, and biomechanical problems will occur.
Often in the post-op radiographs there looks to be a gap in the fracture even though during surgery the bones are seated nicely – and this is because the area here is ‘radiolucent’ – ie there is no calcium or bone here so it looks black (or like a break) in the area.
The pins are generally removed 6 - 10 weeks after the repair, depending on the rate of healing.
Sometimes under a profuse amount of tartar and plaque lie healthy teeth that do not require extraction and the gums are healthy.