Roux, a 7 month old lhasa apso cross poodle, was playing at home when she fell off the bed, hurting her leg badly. She was unable to stand or put any weight on it at all. We saw her at the surgery the following morning, and it was clear her knee was causing her a lot of discomfort. She was admitted for x-rays which confirmed she had fractured the top of her shinbone (tibia).
This particular fracture (an avulsion of the tibial tuberosity) is a common injury in immature and young adult dogs as there is a natural weakness in their bones because they are still growing.
All long bones have growth plates, and these are the points from which the bones elongate. As growth plates are made from cartilage, they are weaker than the surrounding bone, and are also under an immense amount of stress from the pull of surrounding muscle – in Roux’s case the strong thigh muscles (quadriceps).
When dogs finish their growth phase and mature, their growth plates ‘close’ and calcify to become hard bone, which is much less likely to fracture.
The piece of bone which had broken off Roux’s shinbone had moved a long way from its original position and was in danger of moving further. We could not leave Roux without immediate surgery, so repaired her fracture that afternoon, despite it being a Saturday. We used crossed pins and a figure of 8 tension band wire which gives a solid and secure fixation and Roux went home on Sunday hardly limping at all! She has continued to recover remarkably well and in fact her owners are finding it difficult to keep her from being too boisterous while her fracture fully heals!