Hip dysplasia is common. It frequently becomes apparent from 6 months or so of age, leading to serious pain when the hip is extended.
In larger dogs, at least, the gold standard surgical treatment is total hip replacement surgery (see separate article on THR). However, this is pretty expensive and carries some risk (perhaps 5%) of significant/serious complications. There is also the need for diligent aftercare and restraint in the early post-op period to optimise outcomes.
For cases where finances are a limiting factor or where the owner doubts that they can comply with the aftercare required for a THR, or where the risk of complications of a THR puts the owner off the idea, then neurectomy is frequently an option. Neurectomy is less aggressive than femoral head and neck excision, where the ball of the ball-an-socket articulation is excised. So unlike FHNE, neurectomy avoids removing any residual mechanical support that the (albeit poor quality) hip articulation can offer.
Neurectomy involves surgically damaging the sensory innervation to the affected hip(s) joint capsule. It doesn’t further destabilise the articulation (like a femoral head and neck excision would – see the separate article on this surgery). Neurectomies can be done on both sides simultaneously, and costs are much less than for THR. No special aftercare is required other than to protect the overlying soft tissue wound while it heals in the two weeks post-op. The risk of significant adverse complications with neurectomy is low. The rest of the innervation to the hindlimb(s) is intact, and there is no adverse functional significance from the dog’s point of view in losing the sensation to the hip joint.
This surgery is usually done on dogs, often larger rather than smaller ones. We have, however also performed this surgery on cats with a pleasing outcome.
29th December 2013