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Location - Carnation, WA 98014


(FHO) Femoral Head and Neck Ostectomy


What is an FHO?

FHO stands for femoral head and neck ostectomy. This procedure may be performed when there is irreversible damage to the hip joint, when pain is a major issue, an when total hip replacement is not an option. It is a salvage procedure, so a perfect gait postoperatively may not be achievable. The goal here is reduce pain and give the patient a functional leg.

In this surgery, the “ball” in the ball-and-socket hip joint is removed. The space left behind is slowly filled in with tough scar tissue that acts as a faux joint and allows similar function to a real joint. The process of building this scar tissue is slow and gradual. Although the most critical healing will occur in the first few months, it will be much longer—even up to 6 months, before the process is truly complete.

Potential Complications of an FHO

Most complications of an FHO arise from lack of use of the limb following surgery. If the leg is not used, then quadriceps contracture and/or muscle wasting can occur. Quadriceps contracture is an end-stage condition that is usually untreatable and may result in the necessity of amputation.

Unlike other orthopedic surgeries, it is very important that an FHO patient start using the leg right away after surgery in order to keep a good range of motion and heal properly.


Getting that leg moving after surgery is the most important factor in success with this surgery. Moving and using the leg usage will build muscle to help support the limb and achieve a functional range of motion as the leg develops scar tissue in the space where the hip joint once was.
Week One
Incision care: An e-collar should be worn consistently for the first 14 days after surgery. The dog should never lick it’s incision. If you see swelling, redness, or discharge see your veterinarian right away.
Cold packing: For the first three days after surgery, ice the incision for 5 minutes twice daily. A cold pack can be made by wrapping a bag of frozen peas in a clean damp towel.
Warm packing: After three days of cold packing the incision you should switch to warm-packing twice daily for the next three days. A warm pack can be made by placing a clean sock filled with rice in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. Be sure to wrap the warm pack in a thin towel in order to avoid burns.
Passive Range of Motion: Begin this just a few days after surgery if the dog can tolerate it. To do this, gently extend the hip so the leg sticks out behind the dog and hold it for about 5 seconds in extension. Next, bring the leg forward gently to flex the hip joint. You will need to do this 10-15 times 2-3 times a day. This exercise can be done while holding the dog, or while the dog lays on her side.
Massage: Massage the thigh and gluteal muscles for about 5 minutes twice daily.
Lease walks: Start taking your dog for 5-10 minute walks this first week. Do this even if they aren’t willing to use the leg yet.

Physical Therapy Exercises


Have dog sit then call it so it stands and comes to you. Repeat 10 times twice daily.

Figure 8 walks

Circle to left and to the right 10 times twice daily.


Lift front legs off the ground and “dance” with your dog by holding him there gently for about 30 seconds. Do this a few times a day.

Uneven surface walking

Have the dog walk over a wobbly surface back and forth 10-15 times twice daily. Good surfaces like this can include a thick foam mattress, an air mattress, a bunch of blankets, a line of pillows etc.


Swimming is great physical therapy for dogs. If you have swim therapy be sure to take advantage of it as much as you can.

More Information

For more information on aftercare please see the FHO rehabilitation instructions.

Riverbend Veterinary

Riverbend Veterinary orthopedic surgeries performed in-house at your local veterinary clinic in King County, WA and surrounding areas.

Contact Details

Carnation, WA 98014

(913) 708.3394