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"Ernie" - Kitten with dislocated hip

Photo of Ernie

"Ernie", a 6 month old kitten, had been missing for 36 hours when he returned home limping on his left hind leg.

Apart from some minor lacerations to his shin there was little else to find on examination. It was assumed that he had been involved in a fight with another cat and coming off worst had "holed up" until the coast was clear.

When his limp failed to improve it was apparent that there must be more of an explanation.

X-rays revealed that he had dislocated his hip on that left side. Additionally, the bony prominence (greater trochanter) to which the major gluteal muscles attach providing stability to the hip had broken off.

The hip is by far the most common joint to dislocate in the dog and cat. Once this injury was diagnosed it was clear that Ernie's original collision must have been with a car rather than another cat. It is very surprising to many owners that despite a major trauma such as is experienced in a road traffic accident there can be very little obvious external injuries to find.

Ernie's problem was compounded by the fact that the very structures (gluteal muscles) which would keep the hip in place had been damaged. Surgery therefore had 2 goals, firstly to replace the hip then secondly to secure it by reattaching the greater trochanter with a stainless steel pin and tension band wire.

When placing the implants in such a small fragment there is only one "bite at the cherry" otherwise it simply disintegrates. Fortunately for Ernie, surgery went very well.........too well in fact, as my head nurse had to admonish him from climbing the kennel bars that very afternoon after his operation.

Three weeks later and the implants were removed as the fracture had healed and the hip was still in position. After a few more weeks restricted activity Ernie will hopefully only be tackling opponents his own size...........and no doubt his owners will be sure to continue with Ernie's insurance premiums!

Terry Dunne BVMS, Cert SAO, MRCVS

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