Practical relevance: Traumatic joint luxations are usually associated with significant trauma and there may be concomitant systemic injury. Joints are unstable as a result of injury to one or more supporting structures and the clinician should aim to determine which structures are damaged with physical examination, diagnostic imaging and careful assessment under sedation/anaesthesia. The aim is to reduce the joint back to its anatomical position, and then to maintain this through repair of damaged structures. However, where this is not possible, replacement or removal (arthrodesis/excision arthroplasty) of the joint remain viable options.
Clinical challenges: Owing to the small size of feline joints and the severity of damage often seen, surgical management of these cases can be challenging. The first priority is to ensure the patient is systemically well before embarking on any specific surgical treatment of a luxated joint. Cats also present challenges in the postoperative period and a lack of patient and owner compliance can be detrimental to postoperative outcomes.
Aims: This article aims to help the reader diagnose joint luxations and to assist decision-making with an overview of the management and treatment options available.
Evidence base: There are a number of original articles and textbook chapters in the literature covering aspects of different joint luxations, particularly for the more common luxations. This article draws on information from key feline research and, where necessary, extrapolates from relevant canine research. The authors also offer practical guidance based on their own clinical experience.