To report on a series of dogs and cats with long bone fractures that occurred as a direct consequence of linear external skeletal fixation (ESF) application.


Retrospective study. Data from the medical records and radiographs of canine (n = 4) and feline (n = 7) cases were collected from three referral and three first opinion practices in the UK (1999 to 2011).


Long bone fractures occurred following the application of linear ESF either while the ESF was in situ or after removal. All fractures occurred through either a pin tract or an empty drill hole. Pins associated with ESF-related fracture tended to be in the higher end of the recommended size range. The majority of cases had additional complicating factors such as multiple injuries, revision surgery, poor owner compliance with postoperative exercise restriction and the presence of empty drill holes.


In cases with features that could complicate outcome, careful attention should be paid to recommendations for ESF application. Leaving empty drill holes is suboptimal. The retrospective nature of the study, low numbers of, and diversity amongst, cases should be taken into consideration when interpreting the results from this study.