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Information on FHO Surgery or Femoral Head
Ostectomy or Femoral Head Osteotomy

Dog Femoral Head Ostectomy, also known as, Femoral Head Osteotomy or FHO Surgery are all names used to describe the same surgical procedure in which the femoral head and neck are removed from the femur. Once removed there is no longer any hip joint, yet overtime scar tissue forms in between the acetabulum (socket) and the remaining part of the femur. Often this gets referred to as a “false joint” because the scar tissue reduces the amount of bone on bone contact and therefore results in a significant decrease in overall pain. Usually only one side is done at a time allowing for it to heal before the other side is done, if needed of course. The remaining femoral bone is supported entirely by the dog's thigh muscles. This is why it is extremely important to enroll your dog in canine rehabilitation following the FHO surgery. This will truly give you the best chance to help build muscle mass in the hind legs.

An FHO can be performed on any size dog however, smaller dogs seem to do much better with this surgery. Dogs that are overweight or have a significant amount of muscle atrophy will definitely take longer to recover, but as long as you have a plan for post-operative physical therapy everything should be fine.

The FHO surgery sometimes is considered a salvage procedure and often is performed when other surgical procedures are not an option such as a total hip replacement. The FHO Surgery is a rather simple procedure in the grand scheme of things. Most dogs return to close to normal activity level after the surgery. The “false joint” that forms is smoother and allows comfortable range of motion when running, playing and walking.

On the positive side of things, there is very little down time after the surgery. Exercise restriction is usually only a few days. Exercise is encouraged soon after surgery because of the need to develop the scar tissue. Have a plan for after surgery or visiting a canine rehabilitation facility in you area will dramatically improve your results.

Lastly it is important to emphasize one more thing. Proper pain management for the dog after surgery is vital. Many times the veterinary surgeon may only prescribe pain meds for a week after surgery. This is fine for some dogs and not for others. If your dog is off of pain medications and not using their leg 100% of the time, discuss continuing with the pain medications for a little while longer.

At TopDog when it comes to FHO Surgery we promote pain management until the dog is using the leg 100% of the time and has rebuild significant previously lost muscle mass.

Dog Femoral Head Ostectomy or Femoral Head Osteotomy or FHO Surgery, which ever you want to call it, is great surgical option that improves the lives of many dogs that are suffering with joint disease.