Feline radial and ulnar diaphyseal fractures: a retrospective study of 49 cases comparing single bone fixation and dual bone fixation

Objectives: The objectives of this study were to report the complications in radial and ulnar diaphyseal fractures in cats and to compare the differences in outcome between single and dual bone internal fixation.

Methods: Medical records between 2004 and 2022 were searched retrospectively for cats with antebrachial diaphyseal fractures treated with internal bone-plate fixation. In total, 49 cases were included from six referral hospitals, including one teaching hospital. Patient information was collated, including fracture configuration, location, repair method and clinical outcome as assessed by veterinary physical examination, radiography and owner questionnaire.

Results: A total of 47 cats (mean age 4.2 years) were included. Fractures were located distally (24/49, 49%), proximally (13/49, 26.5%) and mid-diaphyseally (12/49, 24.5%). Dual bone fixation was used in 13/49 (26.5%) cases, with only 1/13 (7.7%) having major complications. By comparison, 4/36 (11.1%) of single plated fractures had major complications. Single bone fixation was 14.25 times more likely (95% confidence interval [CI] 2.07-97.99) to have a successful outcome (veterinarian-assigned score of 0) compared with dual bone fixation (P = 0.007). When evaluating owner-assessed outcomes, single bone fixation was 9.4 times more likely (95% CI 1.4-61.96) to have a successful outcome (owner score of 0) compared with dual bone fixation (P = 0.019).

Conclusions and relevance: Fractures that were repaired with single bone fixation had a greater chance of a better outcome. Although the difference was not significant, there was a higher major complication rate and a lower minor complication rate for cases treated with single bone fixation compared with dual bone fixation. The majority of fractures were located in the distal diaphysis. Comminution of the fracture and concurrent orthopaedic issues did not significantly affect the outcome. Further prospective studies with standardised follow-up, radiographic assessment, surgeon and implants are required to truly assess the difference between dual and single bone fixation.

Author: Jason G Makar et al.

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