There are few things more heartbreaking than seeing our dogs in pain, especially when that pain impacts their mobility. Mobility-impacting conditions like injuries, arthritis, or hip dysplasia can become debilitating. Fortunately, these days, animal medicine has advanced to the point where we can do something to help our limping dogs heal.
The key is performing a procedure on your bones related to mobility. There are two surgeries of this type: FHO and total hip replacement. What’s best for your dog is dependent on your dog’s unique situation. Here’s a short explanation of both to help you decide.
What Is the Difference Between a Total Hip Replacement and FHO?
Both a total hip replacement and a femoral head ostectomy (FHO) focus their attention on the femur. In a total hip replacement, doctors remove the ball and socket of the femur and replace it with an implant. These implants are made of different types of materials, namely metal alloys like metal and plastic.
FHOs, on the other hand, remove only the ball of the femur but do not replace it. The idea is that as the body heals, scar tissue will form in the empty space, creating a “false joint.”
Pros and Cons of Both Surgeries
Many doctors prefer a total hip replacement because dogs have the highest expectancy of resuming a completely pain-free life following the surgery. A dog’s leg will also remain the same length, so they will not have any change in their walking pattern.
Those who favor FHOs tend to do so because they are a simpler procedure. This allows for an easier recovery with a lower risk of complications. The surgery is also fairly cost-effective.
Total hip replacement’s main downfall is its complexity. Every surgery comes with risks, and when you start adding steps like putting an implant into the body, it increases the risk of complication. This is especially true for very young or very small dogs.
As for FHOs, even though they can correct issues related to poor anatomy, they don’t always completely eliminate pain. FHO also shortens a dog’s leg, meaning they may need to spend a longer time rehabilitating after the surgery.
Choosing a Surgery for Your Dog
There are several factors to consider when you’re deciding which surgery is best for your dog between FHOs and total hip replacement. A few things your vet may bring up are:
If you aren’t sure of the type of surgery that will best benefit your dog, you don’t have to make the choice alone. Our veterinarians are experts in a variety of procedures for dogs, including canine TPLO surgery and—of course—FHO and total hip replacement.
Thanks for helping me understand that total hip replacement would be replacing the ball and socket of the femur with an implant. I just needed to know about this because my uncle apparently might need to undergo an anterior hip joint replacement procedure surgery. It's because of the accident he was in earlier which has affected that part of his body, especially when he is already at his 50s.
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Antelope Valley Medical Center Team