Understanding FHO Surgery for Dogs

Dog femoral head ostectomy, often known as, femoral head osteotomy or fho surgery are all names which are used to describe exactly the same thing, a medical procedure where the femoral head and neck are removed from the femur. Once removed there no longer is any hip joint, yet overtime scar tissue forms between the acetabulum (socket) and the remaining part of the femur. Often this is called a false joint mainly because the scar tissue reduces the amount of bone on bone contact thereby resulting in a large decrease in overall pain. Usually only one side is done at one time allowing for it to heal before the other side is performed, if needed of course. The remaining femoral bone is supported entirely by the dog’s thigh muscles. This is often why it is very critical to make sure you enroll your dog in canine rehabilitation right after the FHO surgery. This will truly give your dog the best chance to improve muscle size in the back legs.

An FHO can be done on any size dog however, smaller dogs usually do far better with this surgery. Dogs which are heavy or have a significant amount of muscle atrophy will probably have a harder time recovering, but as long as you have a plan for post-operative physical therapy everything will be good.

The FHO surgery often is believed to be a salvage procedure and quite often is performed when other surgical procedures are not an option for example, a total hip replacement. The FHO Surgery is really a straight-forward procedure for the most part. Almost all dogs go back to normal activity level right after the surgery. The false joint which forms is smoother and allows for comfortable range of motion when running, playing and walking.

On the positive side of things, there is almost little or no down time following the surgery. Exercise restriction is generally only a few days. Exercise is encouraged soon after surgery as a result of the need to produce the scar tissue. Have a good plan for after surgery or visiting a canine rehabilitation facility in your area can dramatically improve your results.

Last but not least it is important to discuss one more thing. Proper pain management for the dog after surgery is vital. Sometimes the veterinary surgeon may likely just prescribe pain meds for just the first week after surgery. This can be fine for some dogs but not for others. If your dog is off of pain medications but not using their leg 100% of the time, it is important to consult with your veterinarian about going forward with the pain medications for a little while longer.

Dog femoral head ostectomy or femoral head osteotomy or FHO surgery, no matter which you choose to call it, is an extremely good surgical option that will better the day-to-day lives of many dogs which might be suffering with joint disease.