Pet recovery from Total hip replacement

When to ask about elbow arthroscopy for your dog

As a dog owner, you know your dog’s normal behavior and activity levels and are likely to notice any changes that indicate they might be in pain or experiencing discomfort. Watching for these changes can help you know when to talk to your veterinarian about possible treatment options, including surgery.

If you’ve heard about elbow arthroscopy but aren’t sure what it is or when to ask your vet if it might be right for your dog, this blog will provide additional insights.

Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive technique to exam the inside of a joint and is used both for diagnostics and surgical treatment. It is frequently performed on dogs that have suspected or confirmed elbow dysplasia, and during the procedure, a surgeon will insert a small camera (arthroscope) into the joint to evaluate the cartilage and bone structures and assess cartilage damage.

You can read more about elbow arthroscopy and the expected recovery process here.

When to talk to your veterinarian about elbow dysplasia

Elbow dysplasia is a syndrome characterized by degenerative joint disease that results from one or more pathologies of the joint structure:

  • Fragmented Medial Coronoid Process (FMCP),
  • Osteochrondritis dessicans (OCD), and
  • Ununited Anconeal Process (UAP)

It is a congenital, hereditary disorder in which symptoms can appear in dogs as young as 5 months.  While any dog can be affected, it is most often seen in large breed dogs such as Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Bernese Mountain dogs, German Shepherds, Newfoundland dogs, and Rottweilers.

The elbow is a complex joint that includes the humerus, ulna, and radius, or the bones that make up the mid-portion of the canine foreleg. Normal function requires both the uniform growth of the three bones and the smooth articulation of the cartilage-covered surfaces located within the joint. If there is unequal growth in any of the bones, it will cause abnormal stress on the joint structures that can lead to FMCP, OCD, or UAP. Trauma to the joint and dietary factors can also contribute to elbow dysplasia.

If you are concerned about elbow dysplasia, the most common clinical signs you might observe are limping or lameness. You might also notice head bobbing when your dog moves at a fast walk or slow trot, as that is typical with front limb lameness. However, the lameness might not be noticeable at a run.

Your dog might not want to go for long walks or play for extended periods. Elbow dysplasia will limit range of motion in the elbow joint and can also cause discomfort with extension or flexion of the joint, making it difficult or uncomfortable to stand up from a laying down position.

Take action early if you think your dog might need elbow arthroscopy

If you notice signs of limping or lameness, ask your veterinarian about whether your dog might have elbow dysplasia. Dogs can have dysplasia in one or both elbows and can have more than one pathology in the same elbow joint. Read more about elbow dysplasia here.

As mentioned above, arthroscopy is used to diagnose elbow dysplasia, as well as to treat the underlying pathology. Arthroscopy is indicated for treating FMCP and OCD, however, UAP often requires traditional open surgery. The earlier arthroscopy can be performed, the better the chance of slowing the development of degenerative osteoarthritis in the joint. Many dogs who have elbow arthroscopy experience a noticeable improvement in lameness and discomfort, and many can return to a higher level of activities once fully recovered.

If your veterinarian suspects elbow dysplasia, you can ask them for a referral to Animal Surgical & Orthopedic Center or you can request a consult with one of our surgeons to see if arthroscopy is recommended.

We are here to help your pets live a happy, pain-free lifestyle!



Posted May 17, 2021 by Animal Surgical in Surgery with No Comments

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