Femoral Head and Neck Ostectomy (FHO)

What is a Femoral Head and Neck Ostectomy?

Femoral head and neck ostectomy (FHO) is a surgical procedure in which we remove the ball portion (femoral head) and the attachment (neck) portion of the femur, which in essence removes the hip joint. The hip is a ball and socket joint, with the femoral head being the ball and the acetabulum (a portion of the pelvis) comprising the socket. The body forms a ‘pseudo-joint’ in the months following surgery, but unlike the normal contact of bone and cartilage; the pseudo-joint is a collection of scar tissue with additional support from the surrounding muscles and joint capsule.

FHO is a surgical treatment for hip disorders such as a femoral head fracture, hip dysplasia, hip luxation, and Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease in small dogs and cats.

What is the Aftercare?

In contrast to most other orthopedic surgeries, early use of the leg after surgery is important to allow for the best possible outcome. In many pets this will require owners to perform physical therapy, utilizing techniques such as range of motion exercises and swimming. Physical therapy is started as soon as pets will allow, usually after suture removal 7-10 days post-surgery.

Will my pet walk normally after surgery?

FHO is an excellent treatment to eliminate hip pain. However, because the natural hip is gone, the leg may not be as strong as a normal leg. This decrease in strength is less apparent in cats and small dogs, but it may be more obvious in large and giant breed dogs. Small dogs and cats usually have an excellent outcome after FHO, whereas large and giant breeds may continue to have a distinct gait difference.

Are there any Risks or Complications?

There are few risks or complications associated with an FHO surgery. Some pets recover very quickly with little need for owners’ assistance, but other animals need intensive physical therapy. Lean and fit animals tend to recover quicker than overweight and weaker pets.