Global Veterinary Specialist | Surgery, Specialists, Science, Service & Symposia

Global Veterinary Specialists

Surgery, Specialists, Science, Service & Symposia

Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO)

Femoral head ostectomy (FHO) is a nonreversible surgical procedure that is not recommended by GVS. This surgery procedure is used to help dogs suffering with hip pain and to improve their quality of life only when hip replacement is not an option. Unlike a total hip replacement (THR), biomechanical function is not maintained. During surgery, the ball component of the joint (the femoral head) is removed, which helps to create a separation between the pelvis and the femur to decrease bone rubbing on bone.

This procedure is only suitable when hip joint disease results in continuing pain and other methods of treatment are not feasible or did not produce satisfactory results. The procedure is an option recommended primarily when financial constraints are present. After surgery, the degree of limb use may vary from normal use to a continued limp, dependent on the patient. In most cases a FHO results in shortened limbs, restricted hip movement, muscle atropy, and unpredictable pain relief.

In general, the larger the patient the less predictable the result. Older or larger dogs, who present with severe degenerative disease involving the hip joint, are expected to have much more favorable results with a total hip replacement, rather than a femoral head ostectomy. Rehabilitation after FHO may take 3-6 months, and are partially dependent on postoperative care and physical therapy. After FHO, physical therapy begins shortly after your pet’s sutures are removed.

One type of physical therapy for your pet to participate in following this procedure is swimming. This is because this exercise works to both flex and extend the hip joint. Recommended session times are dependent on which form of physical therapy is used. This will help increase your dog’s range of motion and strength.

As mentioned, the results of an FHO vary and are partially dependent on the patient’s size and on postoperative care as well as physical therapy. Objective data results show that small dogs and cats also often continue to have problems after FHO.

In conclusion, anytime you are considering any surgery – whether it be a femoral head ostectomy (FHO) or total hip replacement (THR) – for your pet, it is highly recommended that you first carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each surgery. While there may be instances where a FHO is acceptable for you, the advantages of a THR must be considered. Advantages and disadvantages of both procedures should be discussed with your surgeon prior to making any definitive decisions.  

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