Clover's FHO surgery, a special entry by our volunteer Peter!
July 23, 2010

Our latest Medical Suite blog entry is written by Peter, one of our very dedicated Cat Task Force volunteers!


"Thanks to the courtesy of Dr. Pam Wilmot, one of our resident veterinarians, I got to watch her perform an FHO (Femoral Head Osteotomy, also sometimes called Femoral Head Ostectomy) surgery on Clover, a 1 ½ year-old black and white Domestic Longhair cat.


 Clover's femoral head before surgery

When Clover arrived at the shelter, we noticed her limping a bit - her intake profile mentioned a hip injury. We contacted her previous vet to get her radiographs (x-rays), and it was noted that her femur (thigh bone) wasn't really connecting to her hip in the right place.  The vet team decided to perform the FHO surgery to correct this and to prevent future arthritis in the area.  This had previously been done here a few times and it's one of those procedures where you go "They are going to do WHAT?" and "How could this work?”  The procedure involves removing the head of the femur where it connects to the hip, which is left to form new scar and cartilaginous tissue.  A pseudo-joint forms at the site, which is pain free and allows almost natural motion once healed.

 Clover's femoral head after surgery

The vet team started the surgical procedure by giving Clover pre-operative medication that completely sedated her so that she wouldn’t feel any pain or have any awareness of the surgery.  Her leg and hip was then shaved and cleaned with an antiseptic, a breather tube was inserted, and she was hooked up to a device that monitors heart rate and oxygen levels.  Dr. Pam then made an incision and started to pull back muscle and tissues to expose the femoral head.  After that the head was cut off (using a dental drill) and the end of the bone was smoothed to make sure there were no sharp surfaces exposed.  Then Dr. Pam started to reattach the muscles and tissues to the bone, and finished up by suturing the skin together in a seemingly magical way - leaving all the stitches below the skin. Clover was monitored until she woke up, at which point the breather tube was removed.  She was put in her bed in the cage, where she proceeded to stagger around a bit until she fell asleep.  About an hour later I visited her, offering some pets and a head rub, and she gave me a purr back.


The recovery and resilience we see in pets is absolutely amazing. I guess nobody told Clover she just had a major operation!  She is expected to recover fully, but will be confined to her cage for now to restrict her movements."

The MSPCA at Nevins Farm is only able to help animal like Clover thanks to generous support from the community.  If you’d like to contribute to Clover’s medical costs, and help the MSPCA treat animals like her in the future, please visit our Angels for Animals page.