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Small Animal: Orthopedic Surgery

The Orthopedic Service deals with problems associated with bones, joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons.

Cassidy the Miracle Kitten visits orthopedics.


Because all of these structures must work together and be healthy for our pets to have a comfortable life, it is important that conditions affecting these tissues be appropriately managed.

At the NC State VH, we have access to state-of-the-art support services that provide high quality radiographic and ultrasonic studies. These may identify problems missed using conventional equipment. The CAT scan unit enables us to take slices at every millimeter of our area of interest, providing a very detailed picture. These images can even be reconstructed into 3-dimensional forms to improve our understanding of the anatomy of the problem and assist in planning a surgery.

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Our Specialties

We have access to the latest surgical equipment available. Current examples include the new titanium bone plate system, an Interlocking nail system for dogs, and the most advanced circular fixator system in the country. The specialists at the VH are involved in the study of many conditions and techniques which results in advances that can be shared with the rest of the profession. If one of our surgeons feels that a new imaging technique or surgery will benefit a patient, the implications of this will be discussed with the owner in depth as the patient’s health and comfort takes precedence in all decisions.

What to Expect

A senior veterinary student will usually gather the initial history and conduct the initial examination. Because we are a teaching hospital, it is very important to us that the students have this experience so that they can provide the best care possible to their future patients and maintain the high standards of the profession. The student will then discuss the case with one of the clinicians on the service. They will then discuss the findings from the initial examination and any additional diagnostic procedures that need to be performed.

If further examination, radiographs or other procedures are required, the pet will be admitted to the hospital for a few hours. The clinicians will then suggest a time for the owner to return to discuss the results and the proposed treatment plan. If the pet requires surgery, the clinician will discuss the scheduling of the surgery. In many cases, the patient will be admitted to the hospital and scheduled for surgery the next day. Download the full Orthopedics expectations document here.

Appointments and Referrals

The Orthopedic service is a referral-only service. In most instances, the primary veterinarian will have discussed the option of a referral to us and will call us to discuss the case. The owner will then be able to make an appointment with the Orthopedic Service through one of our referral coordinators who can provide any other information that might be needed.

It is not possible for us to provide advice to clients about their pets’ specific problems via phone or email. In order to determine the correct approach to a situation, we will need to obtain a complete history and directly examine the patient.

Once the primary veterinarian calls and sets up the referral, the owner may call and arrange an appointment. New patient non-emergency appointments are scheduled on Monday & Wednesday mornings.

The cost will vary depending on the problem, the number of tests needed, the intensity of the care provided, the complexity of any surgery and the length of hospitalization. We will provide an estimate during the initial appointment with revisions as needed as treatment progresses. Cases with multiple injuries requiring intensive care are the most difficult to estimate accurately. We require a deposit of the low end of the estimate at the beginning of services, and payment in full of the balance due at the time that the patient is discharged.