The goal of any fracture repair is the early return of function with good joint function normal weight bearing in the least invasive means possible.  Often, in Veterinary Medicine because the nature of the patient, this often requires surgery.

Optimal bone healing requires alignment, immobilization and time. The fragments of a fracture need to be brought together in reasonable alignment and held immobile so that the healing process has enough time to complete.  Aligning the ends, or pieces, of a fracture is referred to as “reducing” the fracture, and immobilization is called “fixation.”  Fixation devices can be either external or internal.  External devices include casts, splints and an external fixation or KE apparatus.  Internal devices include, screws, pins, wires and plates are surgically implanted.

The length of time needed for proper healing varies with the location and nature of the fracture.  The species, age, size and overall condition of the animal also play a role.  For example, the healing process that might take only a few weeks in the very young can take 8 to 12 weeks or more in a mature animal.

All fractures heal the same way.  The first step toward healing is the formation of a blood clot at the fracture site.  Over time bone cells called osteoblasts begin to infiltrate the area and a mass of healing tissue called a callus is formed.  The more stable the fracture, the smaller the callus and the faster the fracture will heal. Once the callus becomes mineralized the basic healing of the fracture is complete.  During the next few months the bone will remodel itself, returning the bone to its original size, shape and strength.

The purpose of any surgical repair is to result in bone healing and return to function.  The methods used, such as plates, pins or screws are no longer crucial for stability once healing has occurred and can be removed if necessary.

Some examples of fracture repairs

Tibia fracture repair Humerus fracture repair
Radius-ulna fracture repair
Spinal fracture preoperatively Postoperative spinal fracture repair