OBJECTIVE: This retrospective study was conducted to evaluate the outcome for cattle with diaphyseal fractures of the femur, but not including capital physeal injuries. METHODS: Sources of information were medical records of cattle having a definitive diagnosis of diaphyseal femoral fractures and telephone survey of owners. RESULTS: Medical records for 26 cattle with femoral fracture were found; of the 20 aged less than 2 months, 15 were treated surgically, 4 conservatively (stall rest) and 1 was euthanased without treatment. The surgical treatment varied according to the configuration of the fracture and the surgeon's experience. Surgery for mid-diaphyseal fractures had a significantly better surgical outcome then distal diaphyseal fractures (P < 0.05), as there were significantly fewer postoperative complications. Of the 15 calves treated surgically, 10 were discharged from hospital and 5 were retained in the herd without noticeable lameness. Of the 4 calves treated conservatively, 3 were alive at follow-up, but 2 were still lame. Of the 6 older cattle, 3 were euthanased without treatment and 3 were treated conservatively, 2 of which were alive at follow-up but 1 was still lame. CONCLUSION: Conservative treatment of femur fracture in cattle is possible but associated with complications during the convalescence. Continued research is needed to optimise distal diaphyseal fracture stabilisation in young cattle.
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