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Legg Perthes Disease

Legg Perthes disease affects the hip joint and ultimately causes arthritis and inflammation. The pain inflicted from this disease can be debilitating, and immobility is common. The disease starts when the head of the femur bone slowly begins to lose blood supply, eventually causing the head to die off. This portion of the bone collapses (in an X-ray you can see the femur head is far less dense than normal bone), and the surrounding cartilage cracks and warps.

There is no known cause of Legg Perthes disease, but it typically occurs in miniature, toy, and small breeds within their first year of living. If your pet exhibits any of the following symptoms, feel free to contact our office to schedule a treatment evaluation.

Symptoms of Legg Perthes Disease:

  • Clicking sound coming from hip joint
  • Lameness in hind leg(s)
  • Limping
  • Reluctant to stand up, play, or jump
  • Thinning of thigh muscles
  • Weakness

Diagnosing and treating Legg Perthes disease

Diagnosing Legg Perthes is not complicated, but some symptoms can mirror other degenerative hind leg diseases such as hip dysplasia and patellar luxation. During your pet’s appointment, the veterinarian will take radiographs that can help distinguish which disease your pet is suffering from.

In treating Legg Perthes, surgery is the method of choice for most veterinarians. Femoral head and neck ostectomy (FHO) is the most common and most successful surgical procedure for this particular disease. During this procedure, the veterinarian will remove the femur head, and in more severe cases, the neck of the femur bone as well. After healing, a pet’s body repairs itself to create a new joint of fibrous tissue and scar tissue, filling in the ball-and-socket joint area where the femur head once was. After the pet has had weeks to rest and allowed this scar tissue to build up, physical therapy rehabilitation is started to extend range-of-motion through hydrotherapy and other non-weight bearing activities. Also, weight management becomes extremely critical to prevent putting added stress on the hip joints. For pets that are genetically inclined to obesity, a nutrition plan might be implemented. The FHO surgery is often very successful in preventing further pain, improving range of motion, and increasing activity levels.

If you have any questions about treatment for Legg Perthes disease, please contact our office.

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