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Pixie’s dislocated hip

Pixie is a beautiful three-year-old black-and-white cat, who came to our clinic after being missing for a week. She had been found underneath her owners’ house, quite lethargic and walking with a lopsided gait. Cats sometimes “go missing” after having been involved in a traumatic incident, like a car accident.After examining Pixie, we were concerned about injuries to her back end. Common injuries in animals hit by cars include dislocated hips, pelvic fractures and other broken bones. Internally, organs such as the spleen, bladder, diaphragm or lungs may be affected. Apart from her strange gait and reluctance to move around, Pixie appeared bright and well.We can gain certain information about the hips and pelvis by palpation and visual assessment, but our next step in investigating injuries in this region is to take radiographs. Pixie was sedated, so that good-quality radiographs could be taken. These confirmed a dislocation of her right hip.Different joints in the body have different structures: the hip is a “ball-and-socket” joint. The femoral head (ie. the “ball”) is held in place by a ligament, called the round ligament. There is a fibrous capsule around the joint and lubricating, nutrient-containing fluid inside the joint.In the case of recently-dislocated hips, we can usually physically manipulate the joint so that the hip slips back into place. This is known as closed reduction and is performed under a general anaesthetic, as it is a potentially painful procedure and requires the animal to be relaxed.

Unfortunately, by the time Pixie was found and her problem diagnosed, her hip had been dislocated for 1 – 2 weeks. Attempts at closed reduction were unsuccessful. We discussed treatment options with Pixie’s owners, including surgically replacing the hip into position, or an alternative procedure when the femoral head is removed.

Although it might sound a bit drastic, it is better to remove the femoral head than to allow the hip to remain out of place. A scar tissue joint forms, and replaces the traditional ball-and-socket joint. This procedure is known as a femoral head and neck ostectomy. Pixie’s surgery went smoothly and she went home with some pain relief syrup for post-operative use.

Unlike some other bone surgeries (where we recommend strict confinement and a slow return to normal activity), patients recovering from a femoral head ostectomy are encouraged to move around after their surgery. Pixie started walking around as soon as she arrived home. Her mobility has improved steadily over the following weeks. She is now jumping up onto furniture and back to her normal self!

Pixie’s owners have decided she will probably remain an “inside cat” from now on!


Pixie is a very photogenic cat! This photo was taken after her stay in hospital.

Radiographs (X-rays)confirmed a dislocation of Pixie’s hip.


This diagram represents the part of Pixie’s hip which was removed (the femoral head and neck).

Pixie came back for a couple of check-ups after her surgery, including to remove her stitches.


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