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  2. Skeleton
  3. Diagnosis
  4. Indications
  5. Treatment

Authors of section


Bruno Peirone

Executive Editor

Amy Kapatkin

General Editor

Noel Moens

Open all credits

Lag Screw and neutralization plate

1. Indications

In 32-B1, lag screw fixation combined with a neutralization plate is the standard technique for fractures with a large reducible wedge. As an alternative to the lag screws, cerclage wires can be applied to reduce the fragment in cases where fracture obliquity allows for application of at least 2 wires.


Note: if the fragment reduction is challenging and there is a risk to detach the fragment from its muscular and soft tissue attachments during the reduction maneuver, it is advisable to switch to an indirect reduction and biological fixation technique (for more information please see "Plate and rod" or “Interlocking nail” fixation).

2. Principles

Anatomic reduction

Reducing the free fragment to one of the main bone segments is recommended. This transforms the 3-piece fracture into a simpler 2-piece fracture that allows for an easier anatomical fracture reduction.

lag screw and neutralization plate

3. Patient positioning and approach

This procedure is performed with the patient in lateral recumbency, and through the open approach to the shaft.

lag screw and neutralization plate

4. Surgical technique

Fixation of the fragment

The fragment is secured to one of the main bone segments with a lag screw.

lag screw and neutralization plate

Reduction of the remaining fracture line

Bone holding forceps are applied to the proximal and distal major fragments for distraction.

lag screw and neutralization plate

In an oblique fracture pattern, the bones are slid along the fracture line into perfect anatomical reduction with the help of one or two pointed reduction forceps placed across the fracture line.

Note: care must be taken not to damage the secured fragment during the reduction maneuver.

lag screw and neutralization plate

A second lag screw completes the reconstruction of the bony column.

lag screw and neutralization plate

Lag screws vs. cerclage

In order to achieve interfragmentary compression and counteract the shearing forces, either cortex screws placed in lag fashion, cerclage wires or a combination of both can be used depending on fracture configuration.

Read more about lag screw fixation and cerclage wire techniques.

lag screw and neutralization plate

Pitfall: If the obliquity of the fracture is too short, a cerclage wire will cause the fracture to shear and cause loss of reduction.

additional material

Neutralization plating

The plate is contoured, applied and preliminary secured to the bone with bone or plate holding clamps. If a locking compression plate is used, temporary stabilization can be achieved with the push-and-pull devices.

lag screw and neutralization plate

Plate selection

The length of the plate should allow for placement of at least 3 screws in each the proximal and distal major fragment. To increase stability of the construct, a plate that spans 75% of the femur length is recommended.

Read more about plate preparation.

32 B1

Plate application

The plate is secured with at least three bicortical screws in each of the major fragments. Avoid screw insertion close or at the level of the fracture line. All screws are placed in a neutral mode.

32 B1

Fixation with a locking plate

If a locking plate is used, only 2-3 locking bicortical screws per main fragment are needed. One advantage of using a locking plate is that precise contouring is not necessary.

Note: If a combination of cortex and locking screws is used, the plate must be anatomically contoured at the sites of non-locking screw insertion. The non-locking screws must be inserted and tightened before any locking screws are placed.

lag screw and neutralization plate

5. Aftercare

Phase 1: 1-3 day after surgery

Aim is to reduce the edema, inflammation and pain.
Integrative medical therapies, anti-inflammatory and analgesics.

Phase 2: 4-10 days after surgery

Aim is to resolve the hematoma, edema and control pain, and prevent muscle contracture.
Anti-inflammatory and analgesic medications may still be needed. Rehabilitation and integrative medical therapies can be used.

Special attention should be given to patients less than 1 year of age with a femoral fracture. Rehabilitation is strongly recommended to help prevent quadriceps muscle contracture.

If the dog is not starting to use the limb within few days after surgery, a careful evaluation is recommended.

10-14 days after surgery the sutures are removed.

Radiographic assessment is performed every 4-8 weeks until bone healing is confirmed.

~3-4 months after follow up radiographs surgery check bone healing.