Have you ever wondered how common your pet’s surgery is?

Here are our 10 most common surgeries at HRVSS in 2023:


TPLO remains our #1 surgery.

This procedure addresses a torn ACL in the knee.

Our most common breeds are the Lab and pit bulls.

Our biggest patient was Walter, a 185 lb Cane Corso.

And our smallest one was Molly, a 14 lb Yorkie.

Thinking that TPLOs are only for big dogs is a common misconception.

It’s necessary in dogs, of any size, with a steep angle at the top of the shin bone (tibia).

2. Masses

We have removed masses from virtually every body part this year: under the skin (legs, chest, neck, eyelid etc.), near the anus, in the belly, etc.

Most masses were cancerous, and a few were benign.

3. ACL (part 2)

In smaller dogs who do not have a steep angle at the top of the shin bone, we can use the “traditional” technique, which requires heavy nylon sutures to “replace” the ACL.

In patients (of any size) who have an angle above 35º, we use another technique called a TWO (Tibial Wedge Osteotomy) or CWO (Closing Wedge Osteotomy).

The general concept is similar to a TPLO, in the fact that we cut the shin bone and hold the pieces together with a stainless-steel plate.

This was the case of Pebbles, a 1 year old Lab who lives almost 2 hours away from HRVSS!

The angle in her knees was around 45º, so a TWO was required (in both knees!) rather than a TPLO.

4. Orthopedic surgery

Our next group includes various orthopedic surgeries:

. OCD of the shoulder – a flap of cartilage that hurts and causes limping.

. Leg amputation, most commonly because of cancer in the leg, often bone cancer.

. Elbow dysplasia surgery (again, to remove pieces of bone or cartilage that act as a pebble in your shoe).

5. Kneecap dislocation

Normally, the kneecap glides up and down in a deep groove at the end of the thigh bone (or femur).

When it pops in and out, it destroys the cartilage and leads to limping, pain, and arthritis.

It is common in dogs, and we’ve seen a few kitties with that condition.

A dislocated kneecap can lead to a torn ACL – causing even more limping, pain, and arthritis.

Alone or together, this is a common surgery at HRVSS.

6. Fractures

Our most common fracture last year involved both bones of the forearm (radius and ulna).

The most common repair involved a stainless steel plate and some screws.

It’s a classic injury in small dogs after they jump off the couch or from their owner’s arms.

We also fixed fractures of other multiple bones, most often after a pet is hit by a car.

7. FHO

FHO surgery (Femoral Head Ostectomy), aka removal of the “ball”, aka the femoral head, is performed for a number of reasons:

. hip dysplasia

. dislocation

. fracture

. deterioration of the “ball” of the hip (Legg Perthes disease)

Intensive physical therapy is mandatory to get a good range of motion after an FHO.

8. Reconstructive surgery

In this varied group, we performed:

. Tail amputation (because of a tumor or severe trauma)

. Perineal urethrostomy in cats. Male cats can have a blockage in the end of the urethra, which is the very narrow tube between the bladder and the outside world. When a cat gets “blocked” several times, a “P/U” is performed to widen the end of the urethra.

. Penile amputation in a dog with severe trauma to the penis.

. TECA, a procedure to treat end-stage ear infections or tumors.

. “Nose job.” Brachycephalic dogs have a flat face (e.g. Bulldogs) and commonly struggle to breathe. The goal of surgery is to widen the nostrils, shorten the “elongated” soft palate, and sometimes remove fleshy “saccules” from the larynx or voice box.

9. Laryngeal paralysis

Speaking of voice box…

Dogs, mostly Labs, can have paralysis of the larynx, or voice box.

It’s a very stressful condition, which causes suffocation.

The tie back surgery allows them to have a bigger airway, which typically works very well.

Most patients quickly go from suffocating to being able to breathe comfortably.

10. Belly surgery

Also called exploratory laparotomy, it allows us to remove body parts (tumors, benign or cancerous), take biopsies, remove bladder stones or foreign bodies, etc.

This year-end review is very interesting to understand what we did all year.

And it’s a tribute to our referring vets, our clients, our patients, and our amazing nurses.

Here’s to a wonderful New Year.

If you would like to learn how we can help your pet with safe surgery and anesthesia, please contact us through www.HRVSS.com

Never miss a blog by subscribing here: www.HRVSS.com/blog 

Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ, Fear Free Certified