Authors of section


Tomas Guerrero

Executive Editor

Amy Kapatkin

General Editor

Noel Moens

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Parallel K-wires

1. Principles

In small breeds of dogs or cats, this type of fractures can be treated using internal fixation with parallel K-wires.

Although a lag screw and antirotational pin fixation is preferred for this type of fracture, screw fixation is not always possible in small breed dogs or cats and parallel K-wire can provide satisfactory fixation.

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2. Patient positioning

This procedure is performed with the patient in lateral recumbency.

lateral recumbency position

3. Approach

A craniolateral approach is performed. If further visualization is needed for fracture reduction, it is combined with a dorsal approach.

lag screw and k wire

4. Surgical technique

Implant selection

Three small K-wires are used to carry out the fracture fixation.

K-wire insertion in the femoral neck

The K-wires are started at a point slightly distal and just cranial to the third trochanter. The wires are directed dorsally and slightly cranially to follow the direction of the femoral neck and avoid the trochanteric fossa.

lag screw fixation

Three K-wires are pre-inserted in the femoral neck. The K-wires are placed parallel to one another with the points visible at the fracture surface.

The wires can be driven in a retrograde or normograde fashion. Retrograde fashion ensures perfect positioning of the pins. The use of a “C” guide can also ensure accurate placement.

parallel k wires


The fracture is reduced and secured with pointed reduction forceps. The K-wires are driven into the femoral head without penetrating the articular surface.

parallel k wires

The lateral ends of the pins are bent and cut short.

parallel k wires

Validation of fixation

Postoperative orthogonal radiographs are taken to assess fixation.

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5. Aftercare

Activity restriction is indicated until evidence of bone union is detected on radiographic examinations.

Implants may cause discomfort of the adjacent soft tissue. If this occurs, implants are removed after radiographic evidence of bone healing is complete. In case of infection, implants must be removed after complete bone healing.

Phase 1: 1-3 day after surgery

Aim is to reduce the edema, inflammation, and pain.

Integrative medical therapies, anti-inflammatory and analgesic medications.

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 a 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 complete bone healing is confirmed.

Implant removal

If there is no implant failure or infection, there is no need for implant removal.