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Coxofemoral Hip Luxation in Dogs

By: Dr. Nicholas Trout

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Coxofemoral (hip dislocation) luxation is dislocation of the head of the femur, which is the ball of the thigh bone, out of the socket of the pelvis (acetabulum). The dislocation is usually the result of trauma and results in a non-weight bearing lameness of the affected limb. Hip dysplasia can also cause coxofemoral luxation and is not covered by this discussion.

Hip dislocation occurs when the round ligament of the femoral head, the structure that normally tethers the femoral head within the acetabulum, completely ruptures or pulls away from its attachment.

There are no breed, age, or sex susceptibilities for this problem.

The potential long-term effects of hip luxation range from none, if the problem is addressed early, to severe arthritis in the joint if there is excessive delay in treatment.

What to Watch For

  • Inability to bear full weight on the limb
  • Excessive mobility of the limb
  • Crackling noise (crepitus) at the joint
  • Shortening of the limb

    Diagnosis

    Diagnostic tests that may be required to confirm the diagnosis and determine the presence of concurrent diseases or abnormalities, include:

  • A thorough physical examination
  • Chest radiographs
  • Complete orthopedic examination
  • Radiographs of the pelvis
  • Laboratory tests are not required to make the diagnosis, but may be indicated depending on your animal's age and condition.

    Treatment

    Treatment may consist of one or more of the following:

  • Emergency care for concurrent problems caused by the trauma.

  • Closed reduction. This is the replacement of the head of the femur into the socket without surgery.

  • Open reduction. This is the surgical replacement and stabilization of the head of the femur into the socket.

    Home Care and Prevention

    Take your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible after any trauma for immediate evaluation.

    After closed reduction, the limb will be placed in a sling and your dog's activity will need to be restricted for several weeks to allow the joint to heal.

    If an open reduction technique is used, the leg may be placed in a sling and your dog's activity restricted. Additionally, the skin incision will be monitored during the healing process.

    Radiographs may be repeated in several weeks to make sure the hip is still in the joint.

    Many traumatic events are true accidents and thus unavoidable. Walking dogs on a leash and keeping animals confined to a yard will reduce the chances of them being struck by a motor vehicle.

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