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Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO)

The hip is a “ball and socket” joint, where the top of the femur (thigh bone) has a round head (“ball) that fits into the acetabulum (“cup”) of the pelvis to permit locomotion. In some situations, there is severe pathology (“disease”) affecting this joint that makes activity uncomfortable for your pet, because their weight is transmitted through this “ball and socket joint”.

The shoulder joint, by comparison, does not transmit weight bearing force through a “bone to bone” joint, but rather through a “muscle sling”. This is what the femoral head ostectomy procedure aims to mimic. In this procedure, the painful “ball and socket” is removed, alleviating their source of pain; however, we need to convince this back leg hip joint to behave like their front leg shoulder joint. This is achieved through very diligent and early physiotherapy to prevent scar tissue from depositing at the surgery site.

FHO surgery has different post-operative recovery instructions:

  • Dr. Lynch requires patients pursuing the FHO to reach out and schedule professional physiotherapy prior to surgery

  • Activity is limited to walking for the first two weeks, while the incision is healing, then activity is actively encouraged. This is unlike any other orthopedic surgery.

BEFORE surgery (left) and AFTER surgery (right) X-rays, looking straight through a dog’s pelvis and hips.


  • Femoral head (“ball”) highlighted as red circle

  • Acetabulum (“socket”) highlighted as blue half circle

  • Ostectomy (surgery site) highlighted as the green line

  • Knees are at the bottom of the X-rays

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