FHO surgery, or a femoral head ostectomy, can be a relatively inexpensive and effective surgical treatment option for cats with hip problems. Today, our Apple Valley vets explain FHO surgery for cats and when this procedure may be necessary.
Causes of Hip Problems in Cats
Hip problems in cats can be caused by a mixture of old age, injury, and genetic predisposition. FHO surgery can be used to treat any of the following:
- Hip fractures that your vet isn't able to surgically repair, either because of your cat's health or the price of the operation.
- Hip luxation or dislocation, often associated with serious dysplasia is commonly treated with FHO surgery.
- Legg-Perthes disease is a condition that affects your cat's hips. This disease is characterized by a lack of blood flow to your cat's femur and causes the part of the bone which connects with their hope to spontaneously decay, resulting in arthritis or hip damage.
How a Cat's Hip Joints Work
Your cat's hip joint works similarly to a ball and socket mechanism. The ball sits on the end of the thigh bone, or femur, and rests inside your cat's hip bone's acetabulum (the socket).
With the normal function of your cat's hip, the ball and socket work together to provide your feline companion with pain-free and a wide range of movement. When disease or injury breaks down or disrupts your cat's hip's normal function, mobility and pain will result from bones rubbing against one another. This grinding can also lead to inflammation which further reduces mobility and causes pain.
This procedure Is commonly recommended for cats, especially ones who are fit. The muscle mass around active cats' joints can help to speed their recovery. However, any cat in good health can have FHO surgery to alleviate their hip pain.
Signs & Symptoms of Hip Pain in Cats
Your kitty companion may be suffering from a hip problem if they show one or more of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty jumping
- Limping when walking
- Muscle loss around their back limbs
- Increased stiffness and reduced range of motion
Cat FHO Surgery
In the course of your cat's FHO surgery, your veterinarians will remove their femoral head, leaving their hip socket empty. Your cat's leg muscles will initially hold the femur in place and scar tissue will develop between the acetabulum and the femur. Over some time, a "false joint" will form and the scar tissue will form a cushion between their bones.
The Cost of FHO Surgery
When compared to other treatment options, FHO surgery is relatively inexpensive and can often restore pain-free mobility to your cat. The cost of the surgery will depend on several different factors, so you should consult your vet for an estimate.
How Will Your Cat Recover from FHO Surgery
Every cat is different. After their surgery, they may need to stay at the hospital for an amount of time from a few hours to a few days for monitoring and post-surgical care. The length of your kitty's story will depend on their health as well as several other factors.
In the days immediately following surgery, you and your vet will focus on controlling pain with medications such as prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Your cat will need to have their activity restricted by either crating them or confining them to a small room where they aren't able to jump or run.
If your pet is not in too much pain, your vet may recommend passive range of motion exercises to encourage your cat's hip joint to move through its natural range of motion once again.
Starting about one week after surgery, the second recovery phase involves the gradual increase of your cat's physical activity to begin strengthening their joint.
This prevents the scar tissue from getting too stiff and will improve your cat's long-term mobility. Your vet will instruct you on what appropriate exercises for your cat might be.
Most cats recover fully within about 6 weeks of the surgery. If your cat hasn't fully recovered by this time, they may require physical therapy or rehabilitation to ensure a full recovery.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.