Educational Articles

Cats + Surgical Conditions

  • A joint luxation is a dislocation or complete separation between the bones that normally articulate to form a joint. Subluxation is the term referring to a partial separation of the joint. The most commonly subluxated joint in cats is the hip, although any joint can be affected. Your veterinarian may be suspicious of a joint subluxation based on a history of trauma and physical examination findings such as pain and limping. A radiograph is necessary to definitively diagnose a joint subluxation. In many cases, the joint can be reduced or replaced to its original orientation by a procedure called a closed reduction with prognosis being good if treated immediately.

  • LASER is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission Radiation. In short, it is a device that generates a beam of light energy at a specific wavelength. The first laser was developed in 1960, and its use in human surgery became widespread in the late 1980's.

  • The term 'foreign body' refers to any non-food object located within the digestive tract of a dog or cat. Our pets have the tendency to play with or chew on non-food objects and, in the process of doing so, these objects can be inadvertently ingested. One especially dangerous type of foreign body, most common in cats, is referred to as a linear foreign body.

  • The patella connects the femur and the tibia and is normally located in a groove called the trochlear groove found at the end of the femur. A luxating patella is a kneecap that 'pops out' or moves out of its normal location. The patella will luxate or slip out of the groove during extension of the leg if the trochlear groove is too shallow, if the cat is bow-legged or cow-hocked, or if the point of attachment on the tibia is off-center. There are 4 grades of patellar luxation, and a higher grade means that the condition is more severe. Your veterinarian will diagnose a luxating patella by feeling the displaced kneecap during palpation of the leg. A luxating patella can be corrected surgically, especially if the patella luxates frequently. If your veterinarian performs surgery before arthritis or other knee injury occurs, the prognosis is excellent.

  • The gastrointestinal tract terminates in the large intestine with a tubular organ called the colon. The colon serves as a site for the absorption of water and storage of fecal material; it ends at the rectum. The walls of the colon contain muscles that are stimulated to contract by nerves from the spinal cord. When the colon contracts, fecal material is pushed out of the body.

  • Muscle tears are direct or indirect traumatic injuries that cause damage to the architecture of the muscle tissue. The most common cause is an indirect injury, or strain, caused by overstretching during athletic activities, such as running or jumping. Clinical signs of muscle tears include pain on palpation of the injured area, lameness or limping, swelling of the muscle, and/or bruising. Muscle tears are treated immediately with rest, cold compresses, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation. In the most severe cases, surgery is likely required.

  • Nasopharyngeal polyps are benign idiopathic masses originating from the middle ear that extend either down the eustachian tube or into the external ear. They can cause stertor, nasal discharge, otitis, otic discharge and head tilt. Diagnosis may involve visualization through otoscopic exam or behind the soft palate, but usually needs radiographic evidence or more advanced imaging such as CT or MRI. Treatment involves debulking the mass through traction which has a high rate of recurrence, or more advanced surgery into the bulla to remove the source of the polyp.

  • Penetrating wounds such as sticks, arrows, or gunshots can be life-threatening though the outer appearance of a wound may not seem as severe. Take immediate steps to calm your pet, stabilize any foreign body that is present, and get your pet to your veterinarian. Surgery may be necessary after your pet is stabilized.

  • A Penrose drain is a latex tube that is placed into a wound with one or two ends exiting the skin, allowing fluids to drain from the wound. The Penrose drain is designed to passively remove unwanted fluid, usually when treating abscesses or open wounds. Drains should be removed as soon as possible, usually within 2-4 days. Larger wounds may take longer. Once the drain and all the sutures have been removed, your cat can return to normal activities unless directed otherwise by your veterinarian.

  • A perineal urethrostomy (PU) is a surgical procedure that is most commonly performed on male cats with a urinary obstruction. Male cats develop urinary obstructions much more readily than female cats, due to differences in urinary tract anatomy between the two sexes. A PU creates a new urinary opening that decreases the length of the urethra and allows urine to bypass this narrowed region. Less commonly, PU may also be performed in cats with severe urethral trauma. After surgery, your cat will be required to wear an Elizabethan collar (e-collar) to prevent self-trauma to the surgical site.