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Hip (hip, hooray) for British short hair, Alfie!

1 June 2010

Alfie, a two-year-old British short hair cat, was referred to Willows because of severe hip pain that was causing persistent lameness in his right hind leg. X-rays revealed a rare type of fracture of the ball (femoral head) of the hip joint - a condition that is almost exclusively seen in young male cats (picture 1). These particular fractures cannot be repaired and, as a result, some type of salvage operation is necessary. Until recently, the only treatment was to remove the ball (femoral head) of the thigh bone (a procedure known as an 'excisional arthroplasty'), and hope that the resulting false hip joint would be pain free and enable a return to reasonable limb function. Unfortunately, the outcome with this surgery is quite variable and unpredictable.

Hip replacements have been successfully performed in large breed dogs for the last 30 years and recently tiny, 'micro prostheses', have been developed for small dogs and cats (picture 2). Willows' orthopaedic surgeons Malcolm McKee, Toby Gemmill and Bill Oxley replaced Alfie's fractured right hip with an artificial one in a two hour operation which, due to Alfie's small size, they described as being "a delicate procedure" - the new joint was tiny, with the artificial ball measuring only 8 mm across! X-rays taken after the operation showed how the fractured, painful hip had been successfully replaced with plastic and metal components that were cemented into the small bones of the hip joint (the pelvis and thigh bone) (pictures 3 and 4).

Alfie recovered very well from surgery and by the following day he was remarkably comfortable and using his new hip joint very well (picture 5, video). Alfie will be enjoying a period of enforced rest for six weeks to enable healing before returning to his normal life-style!

 

Picture 1: X-ray showing the fractured hip

Picture 1: X-ray showing the fractured hip

 

Picture 2: The micro hip prostheses used to replace Alfie's hip

Picture 2: The "micro" hip prostheses used to replace Alfie's hip

 

Pictures 3: X-rays following surgery showing the artificial hip joint

Pictures 4: X-rays following surgery showing the artificial hip joint

Pictures 3 and 4: X-rays following surgery showing the artificial hip joint

 

Picture 5: Alfie sitting comfortably the day following his operation. A small dressing covers the surgical site

Picture 5: Alfie sitting comfortably the day following his operation. A small dressing covers the surgical site

 

Video: Alfie walking on his new hip the day following surgery