Plates and Pins Workshop: Fracture Basics and Identification

There are many reasons why a fracture can occur, and they are common amongst cats and dogs. Many pets become victims of traumatic incidents. Being hit by a vehicle or falling from a tall tree are some of the common examples, however it’s worth noting the instances where bones weaken whether with age or cancerous bone conditions like osteosarcoma.


Properly identifying the kind of fracture as well as the right course of action is critical for veterinarians because fractures are frequently seen in many general practices. Focus and Flourish is currently offering veterinary surgical workshops on Plates and Pins where we go in depth on what we’ll touch on in this article:


  • Fracture Identification
  • Different Terminologies
  • Stresses
  • Fixation methods


Fracture identification and Terminology

Fractures are identified by: the bone fractured, location on the bone, number of fragments and fracture configuration. Proper identification and classification of fracture is important in communication between veterinarians. While the following terminology is likely only to be used between veterinarians in determining fixation approach, having the right knowledge of fracture identification will make it much easier to communicate efficiently and professionally with the client as well.


Terminology for Location: Proximal mid or distal diaphyseal (or shaft); Articular; Proximal or distal metaphyseal or anatomically specific such as supracondylar, trochanteric, femoral neck; Physeal (Salter Harris I-V).


Terminology for number of fragments: 2-piece; 2-piece plus wedge; 2-piece with small fragments; multiple fragments; segmental.


Terminology for fracture configuration: transverse, short oblique (less than twice the diameter of the bone), long oblique (twice the diameter of the bone), spiral, greenstick/incomplete.




The stresses applied to a bone/fracture line are: compression, distraction, bending, rotational and shearing. Fracture repair is focused on counteracting these stresses.   Therefore selecting the appropriate repair technique is determined by the stresses applied to the fracture.




Internal fixation allows better anatomical reduction, stable fixation of the fracture, faster return to function with early pain free motion of the adjacent joints and can preclude the need for external coaptation. The patient will typically weight bear on the limb within hours to a few days of the repair. Immobilization of a limb with external coaptation on the other hand can be detrimental to the joints. Irreversible OA will develop in a joint after 12 weeks of immobilization. There are various techniques for internal fixation. Each have their advantages and disadvantages. Ideally, a surgeon is well versed in a variety of techniques and can pick the most appropriate one for his/her patient. Intramedullary pinning along with the ability to apply a plate or an external fixator will allow the practitioner to address a large number of fractures.



Plates and Pins Workshop

Please note that the information provided here and the practice that you will get at the workshop is NOT meant to turn you into a board certified surgeon! It is designed to give you some skills to allow you to help more animals. In order to be successful you will need to choose your patients carefully. Contact Focus and Flourish today for more information on our Pins and Plates veterinary surgical workshops.


Interested in one of Focus and Flourish’s veterinary continuing education workshops? They’re held in cities with major international airports in Western (Calgary) and Eastern (Toronto) Canada. The workshops are just a flight away from cities like New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and other cities worldwide.