Canine Fractured Tibia (shinbone)

 

Some fractures are so severe they require the expertise of a specialist in bone surgery. We have a specialist in bone surgery that will come to our hospital and perform the repair. This has several advantages, not the least of which it costs less than if we refer the repair to a surgical specialist at his hospital. These pictures show the repair of Dakota, a Labrador who fractured his tibia (shinbone) by playing.


Type of Fracture

This fracture is called a spiral fracture due to the winding nature of the crack. The fracture is much more severe than is apparent on this x-ray. What is not apparent on the x-ray are the numerous bone fragments that were found surgically.

  


 

Surgery

The following area contains graphic pictures of an actual surgical procedure performed at the hospital. It may not be suitable for some children (and some adults also!). Click here if you would like to bypass the surgery pictures and view post operative x-rays.

 

Our surgeon needs to utilize specialized equipment if he is to put this bone back together so that Dakota can return to normal function. In this picture he is using magnifying glasses and special lighting. In addition, he has orthopedic instruments and equipment without which he would never be able to repair such a severe fracture.

 


 

Bone infections can be serious so significant time is spent in sterile preparation. When Dakota has been anesthetized, and adequately prepared, an incision is made on the inside of his leg. This area has minimal muscle over it and gives good exposure to the fracture site.

 


 

After careful dissection and control of hemorrhage the main fracture segments are isolated.The surgeon uses special wires called cerclage wires to begin the process of holding the fracture segments in place. It is a tedious process that takes up a significant amount of the surgery.

 


 

The wire is tightened down with a special instrument that gives just the right amount of tension. Too little tension and the wire is useless, too much and the bone fractures even more.

 

 


 

At this point 2 cerclage wires have been applied to the fractures at the top, with new ones being applied to the fractures at the bottom

 


 

Eventually 6 cerclage wires are applied to align the bone fragments. Even though these wires are strong the bone will not stay in place and heal with just these wires. A bone plate is needed for most of the stability.

 


 

After the bone plate is measured and bent to the specific shape of this tibia, holes are drilled into the bone with a special air powered drill. They have to be drilled to the proper depth and angle or the bone will fracture more or the plate will fail.

 


Drilling the holes is the first step in the application of the plate. The depth of the holes is measured, and specific screws are used. Some screws compress the plate to the bone, others hold the plate in place.

 


 

Two hours from the start of the surgery the plate has finally been applied. We will not remove it unless there is a post operative complication.

 

 


 

The muscle is sutured to preserve its function and to cover the plate. These sutures will slowly dissolve over several months.

 

 


The skin sutures will stay in for 2 weeks. at this point in the surgery Dakota is given an antibiotic injection along with a pain injection. after one nights rest in the hospital he will go home. He will need to be confined for one month for healing to progress.

 


 

Before Dakota is fully awake from anesthesia an x-ray is taken to assess the surgery. The bend to the plate can be seen, along with the cerclage wires and the different lengths of the various screws. The fractured fibula (arrow) will heal by itself.

 

Once our surgeon is satisfied that everything is in order Dakota is given a pain injectionand awakened from anesthesia. He will spend the night with us so that he can rest and so we can monitor his recovery. He will need to rest at home for several months before the healing is complete. We will not take the plate out unless complications arise.


 

One month after the surgery we took an x-ray to make sure the plate is holding well and the bone is healing. If you look carefully, the small bone in the leg, called the fibula, is healed (arrow). Compare it to the x-ray above where you can see the fractured fibula.