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What is Hip fracture?

The hip is a ball and socket joint composed of the head of the femur (thigh bone) and connecting with the acetabulum (a cup-like socket formed by the ilium and ischium bones of the pelvis). Fracture of either the head of the femur or the acetabulum is not uncommon in dogs and cats. These fractures tend to result from high extrinsic force e.g. road traffic accidents.

How are fractures of the hip diagnosed?

As the hip is a vital joint for hindlimb movement and stability, these fractures lead to clinical signs of non-weight bearing on the affected limb (possibly completely off the back legs if both hips are fractured), crepitus/instability upon palpation of the region, and pain. Physical examination and radiography are generally diagnostic, although in high impact trauma, advanced imaging such as CT scanning may be necessary.

How are fractures of the hip treated?

Treatment of fractures of the hip varies depending upon the area fractured, the age and size of the patient and concurrent instability or injury. As the hip joint is part of the weightbearing axis, conservative management without surgical stabilisation is rarely indicated. Surgical reduction and stabilisation can be challenging. Sometimes a fracture can be reconstructed using internal fixation (bone plates, screws, wires), but in severe cases hip joint can be beyond repair, and salvage is necessary.

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