Sunday, June 2, 2013

Femoral Head Ostectomy(FHO)

We went and saw Dr. Munjar at Veterinary Surgical Center of Portland yesterday.

For anyone in the Portland area I highly recommend Dr. Munjar. He's a super nice guy and both of my dogs have now had good experiences with him. I first met him maybe 2 years ago when he saw my dog LiLo. He's the one that got me to try adequan which has truly been a lifesaver for LiLo.

Anyway, he pretty much confirmed my feelings on the FHO - that it is reasonable to do it now while Seppel is in good shape rather than waiting until later. He said if we really stuck to the physical therapy and got him back into shape while he's recovering that he would probably do very well.

What is an FHO?
An FHO is the removal of the head and neck of the femur.

Pic belongs to:

This isn't something that I have thought about lightly. For the last two weeks or so I have been researching FHO's, looking at pictures and videos and reading forum posts about dogs who have had the surgery. The thing that really sucks is there aren't a lot of stories or videos of dogs that are 1-2 years out and 100% recovered, but from the videos I have seen, I feel like Seppel will recover nearly back to normal and without pain.

Here are some videos of dogs that have had the procedure done:
Rooter - Labrador - 30 weeks post

Shiba Inu - 4 weeks post

Hybrid - 11mos post
[Just found this one!]

Hybrid - 3mos post

If you actually take a moment to view the videos, the dog's gaits do change. This surgery makes one leg shorter than the other. If we follow physical therapy protocol properly and I can get him using the leg properly, he should have 80% range of motion, which is roughly the range of motion he has now with a sore hip.

What happens with this surgery is that since the leg is essentially "floating" there without the head/socket the leg needs to form a "false joint" with the surrounding muscle tissue which is what ends up supporting the leg.

A total hip replacement would be ideal, but I don't have $7k which is apparently the updated price of the surgery.

I got Seppel to just let him live out his days to repay his former owner. At this point, I don't care if he can compete, I just want him to be able to be crazy and active and be able to still chase the ball, participate in protection[recreationally], and run around pain free. I don't believe this surgery will stop him from doing anything. He is incredibly athletic and I feel like he will recover very well.

I did put in a call to a canine physical therapy veterinarian, but she hasn't called or e-mailed me back. That is a bit frustrating and also scary because I want this surgery to be successful.

I have sent in an e-mail to this place:
Paws Aquatics

They are a local dog pool, their rates are really reasonable and this way I can see if Seppel can actually swim in a controlled environment.

I plan to document Seppel's surgery in hopes that if it is successful other people will learn from it. Again, it's been really hard to find videos of dogs years out - to see how they look when fully recovered. My vet described the choosing of surgery as a gray zone, another vet we work with would simply manage her dogs on pain medication until it no longer worked, my vet would probably do the same thing.

Using pain medication would be an easy solution, but he's only 5 years old and will probably never really slow down. Not only do I not want to blow his liver and kidneys out, I also don't want to be questioning whether or not he is in pain when we do things. Sepp is pretty stoic and will do anything and everything I ask, even if he's feeling sore. If we do the surgery this should eliminate the hip pain and there shouldn't be a question of whether or not the pain meds are working. I just want him to be able to be crazy without being in pain and I think this is a really good way to go.


  1. thank you so much for sharing your story...Im going to be posting about my Shiloh Shepherd Norah on the Canine HD board tonight. I added this to my favorite blog section on my blog...we'll check back frequently to see how things are going! Best of luck, and best wishes to Seppel =0)

    1. I just saw your post on the Canine HD board.

      Really, if possible, you might start the adequan now if you can. Adequan is actually going on back-order/possible halt in production. So if you can get your hands on some I would. According the the orthopedic specialist I saw it can be given sub-q [under the skin, like a vaccine] and is just as effective as given IM. My other dog LiLo has been on Adequan going on 2 years[giving sub-q!] and it helps her a lot. If she over-does it activity wise, she does get sore - but it keeps her off of daily pain medication. She has pretty bad hips but maybe not the same situation as your dog, but I just thought I would share my experience with it - it's good stuff.

      The orthopedic doctor I saw said without a doubt the THR was the best way to go and would bring my dog back 100%. I know THRs can fail or the dogs can reject them, but I think in most cases, most dogs do just fine. It's just not something that I can afford.

      I wish you lots of luck! I plan to update weekly on Seppel's progress and really hope the FHO is a success for us.