Hip Luxation: Diagnosis and Treatment for Veterinarians

When the coxofemoral joint luxates, the femoral head most commonly moves into a craniodorsal position relative to the acetabulum. 

To diagnose a craniodorsal luxation of a hip in a dog or cat:

  • Place your index finger in the groove between the greater trochanter and tuber ischium,
  • Rotate the femur.  
  • If the greater trochanter displaces your finger out of the groove then it is NOT luxated.

To reduce a craniodorsal hip luxation:

  • Externally rotate the femur so the femoral head can clear the acetabular rim.  
  • Maintaining a slight external rotation to the stifle and
  • Pull the femur caudally and ventrally (an assistant may apply counter pressure).  
  • Then internally rotate the femur so the head can fall into the acetabulum.
  • With pressure on the trochanter, place hip through a ROM to clear clots/muscle

Note that the patient should be under general anesthesia so that the muscles are relaxed and the femoral head is more likely to move back into position.  The biggest mistake I’ve seen in general practices is that veterinarians attempt to do this with the patient sedated.  They often fail, a good plane of anesthesia is required.

Place the dog in a Ehmer sling for 7-10 days after a successful closed reduction.