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What is an Ostectomy?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 29 November 2016
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An ostectomy is a surgical procedure that involves cutting a section of bone in order to shorten or lengthen the bone itself. This procedure usually changes the alignment of the bone in relation to surrounding tissue and other bone structures. Operations of this type are conducted on animals as well as humans, and can be used to correct bone malformations, align bones for healing after some sort of accident, or to treat bone issues that have developed due to an illness of some sort.

One of the more common applications of the ostectomy with humans is with dental procedures. Often referred to as periodontal ostectomy, this type of surgery usually involves removing a portion of the alveolar bone, making it possible to combine a couple of tooth pockets into a single larger pocket. This procedure is often used as part of dental reconstruction surgery in both situations where injury has occurred or when there is a need to deal with health issues involving the tooth roots themselves.

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When it comes to domestic animals such cats and dogs, the femoral head ostectomy is a procedure that may be used when the animal is experiencing a great deal of pain in the hip area. Essentially, the surgery removes the head from the femur. Rather than replacing the head, the area is allowed to heal. Scar tissue fills in the area, providing a cushion that prevents the bones in the hip area from scraping and creating pain. This creation of scar tissue is sometimes known as a false joint.

In some cases, the ostectomy may require the removal of a longer section of the femur. When this takes place, the procedure is usually referred to as a head and neck ostectomy. While used less often that a femoral head ostectomy, surgery of this type is not uncommon in breeds that are known to develop hip issues during the later years.

As with any type of surgery, ostectomies require a period of recuperation after the procedure is completed. An attempt to immobilize the area and deal with any infection or inflammation that may take place is very important to the recovery process. Assuming there are no complications, ostectomy recovery can be complete in a matter of days or a few weeks, depending on the amount of bone that is removed. Situations where the surgery was undertaken due to a shattering of the femur during an accident usually require a longer recuperative period than procedures in which the head of the femur is removed and there are no bone fragments to contend with.

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