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Authors of section


Bruno Peirone

Executive Editor

Amy Kapatkin

General Editor

Noel Moens

Open all credits

Bridging plate and alternative double plating

1. Indications

32-B3, 32-C3 and usually 32-B2 fractures are not reducible fractures; therefore, biological fracture repairs are recommended.

A plate with a bridging function can under certain conditions be used alone for internal fixation of these fractures. If a bone plate is used alone, it must be able to withstand all the weight bearing forces during healing, as the bone will not initially be sharing the load.
A bridging plate used alone is acceptable in light weight, young dogs in which bone healing is fast.
For larger patients, stronger fixation such as plate and rod or an interlocking should be used. Double plating could be considered as an alternative.


2. Principles

Fracture types:

A) Comminuted, unreduced fracture
B) Comminuted fracture aligned biologically
C) Fracture aligned and biologically stabilized

plate and rod

3. Patient positioning

This procedure is performed with the patient in lateral recumbency.

intramedullary pin fixation with cerclage wires

4. Approach

OBDNT approach

An open-but-do-not-touch (OBDNT) approach provides direct visualization of the fracture site but the fracture fragments are minimally manipulated.

plate and rod

MIPO approach

A Minimally Invasive Osteosynthesis (MIO) technique can be used. A surgical approach to the proximal and the distal femur is performed.

plate and rod

5. Surgical technique


Indirect reduction is achieved by distracting and aligning the major bone segments using bone clamps, or other distraction techniques.

bridging plate and alternative double plating

Validation of alignment and rotation

Once the bone length has been restored, it is necessary to check for correct alignment and rotation. Rotational alignment can be judged by palpation or by direct visualization of the greater trochanter and femoral trochlea or by verifying the alignment of the
adductor magnus muscle. The distal part of the femur is held in a true lateral position. The position of the greater trochanter is then inspected.
If the femur is correctly aligned in the axial plane the greater trochanter should be slightly caudal to the long axis of the bone.

plate and rod

The alignment can also be checked by confirming the orientation of the femoral neck relative to the plane of the femur. This is done by inserting a small pin along side the femoral neck with the femur in a true lateral position. Orientation of the pin should be about 15°-25° in the cranial direction relative to the sagittal plane of the femur.

plate and rod

Correct alignment and rotation can be checked with intraoperative imaging. The latero-medial projection is used and the whole bone, including the proximal and distal joints, must be visible.
If the femur is properly aligned in the transverse plane, about 1/3 of the femoral head should be visible cranially to the cranial femoral cortex. (Image A). Image B shows excessive internal rotation and C shows excessive external rotation of the distal femur.

Comparison with the contralateral unaffected limb can be useful.

plate and rod

In a properly aligned leg, manual manipulation of the femur, will allow 90° of external rotation and 45° of internal rotation of the hip. This method can only be used if the plate has been temporarily secured to the bone.

plate and rod

Plate selection

A large plate must be selected because it must be able to withstand all the weight bearing forces because the bone will not be sharing the load. A lengthening plate (a plate without holes in the central part) can be used.

bridging plate

Plate placement

The plate is contoured and placed on the lateral side of the femur, in bridging function.

Read more about plate preparation.

bridging plate and alternative double plating

Plate application

If possible, the plate is applied by inserting at least three bicortical screws in each major segment. The plate should bridge at least 75% of the length of the femur.

bridging plate and alternative double plating

Locking plate

A locking plate can be used instead of a traditional bone plate.

bridging plate and alternative double plating

6. Alternative surgical technique: Double plating


Double plating can be an alternative to plate rod or interlocking nail fixations in some cases; for example, in very active, large patients or when a single plate is not considered to be strong enough.


Application of plates

The first plate is applied on the lateral surface of the femur. A second plate is secured to the cranial surface.
During the cranial plate placement, care must be taken to avoid interference with the quadriceps mechanism. The distal plate end should be placed safely above the most proximal part of the trochlear ridge. Placement of the cranial plate and screw orientation should be carefully planned to minimize interference with the lateral plate and screws.

bridging plate and alternative double plating
bridging plate and alternative double plating

7. 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.