Use of a Circular External Fixator to Repair a Diaphyseal Metatarsal Fracture in an Adult Alpaca (Lama pacos)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2006
Rolando Quesada, DVM; Luis M. Rubio-Martinez, DVM, PhD; Judith Koenig, DVM, DVSc, DACVS, DECVS; Krista Halling, DVM, DACVS; Kara Schulz, DVM
Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada


A 3-year-old male alpaca was presented due to acute onset of severe lameness of the left hind limb. Repair of a closed, comminuted, nonarticular, diaphyseal, metatarsal fracture was first attempted by full limb cast application under general anesthesia, resulting in non-weight bearing and further displacement of the proximal fracture fragment with the risk of penetration of the skin. A circular external fixator was elected to stabilize the fracture under general anesthesia. The modular frame consisted of three rings and three connecting bars. Two 1.6-mm diameter Kirschner wires were drilled through the metatarsus at the level of each of three supporting rings. The fracture was aligned under fluoroscopic guidance. Ambulation occurred almost immediately after surgery, and the patient was discharged from the hospital 13 days later under stall confinement. No complications occurred and the fixator was removed 3 months later with excellent outcome.

The circular external fixator provided adequate stabilization of the fracture. Placement of the construct was a minimally invasive procedure, decreasing postoperative complications, and resulted in almost immediate postoperative functional use of the limb.

Circular skeletal fixators have been successfully applied for stabilization of long bone fractures in calves, but not in camelids or other zoo ungulates.1,2 This technique might be considered for such species provided mild temperament, reduced body size, and individual value. It also represents an alternative when immediate limb use is required or where no other modality is likely to provide an anatomic reduction.

Literature Cited

1.  Olcay B, Bilgili H, Kurum B. Treatment of comminuted metacarpal fracture in a calf using the Ilizarov circular external fixation system. Isr J Vet Med Assoc. 1999;54:122–127.

2.  Pistani JR, Miscione H, Redondo A, David E. Clinical use of Ilizarov’s compression technique in the treatment of a septic pseudoarthrosis in a calf. Vet Comp Orthop Traumatol. 1997;10:12–15.


Speaker Information
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Rolando Quesada, DVM
Veterinary Teaching Hospital
Ontario Veterinary College
University of Guelph
Guelph, ON, Canada

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