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What is Elbow Dysplasia how will it affect my dog?

Elbow dysplasia is a condition involving multiple developmental abnormalities of the elbow-joint. It is a common condition of certain breeds of dogs. Most developmental elbow abnormalities are related to osteochondrosis (OCD), which is a disease of the joint cartilage. Osteochondritis dissecans refers to separation of a flap of cartilage on the joint surface

In OCD, the normal change of cartilage to bone in the development of the joint fails or is delayed. The cartilage continues to grow and may split or become necrotic. The cause is uncertain, but possibly includes genetics, trauma, and nutrition (including excessive calcium and decreased Vitamin C intake).

The disease
OCD lesions are found in the elbow at the medial epicondyle of the humerus. Specific conditions related to OCD include fragmentation of the medial coronoid process of the ulna (FMCP) and an ununited anconeal process of the ulna (UAP). All types of OCD of the elbow are most typically found in large breed dogs, with symptoms starting between the ages of 4 to 8 months. Males are affected twice as often as females. The disease often affects both elbows (30 to 70 percent of the time), and symptoms include intermittent lameness, joint swelling, and external rotation and abduction of the paw. Osteoarthritis will develop later in most cases.

UAP is caused by a separation from the ulna of the ossification center of the anconeal process. FMCP is caused by a failure of the coronoid process to unite with the ulna. OCD of the medial epicondyle of the humerus is caused by disturbed endochondral fusion of the epiphysis of the medial epicondyle with the distal end of the humerus, which may in turn be caused by avulsion of the epiphysis.

Studies have shown the inherited polygenic traits causing these etiologies are independent of one another. Clinical signs involve lameness which may remain subtle for long periods of time. No one can predict at what age lameness will occur in a dog due to a large number of genetic and environmental factors such as degree of severity of changes, rate of weight gain, amount of exercise, etc. Subtle changes in gait may be characterized by excessive inward deviation of the paw which raises the outside of the paw so that it receives less weight and distributes more mechanical weight on the outside (lateral) aspect of the elbow joint away from the lesions located on the inside of the joint. Range of motion in the elbow is also decreased.

Diagnosis and treatment
Diagnosis is through x-rays and arthroscopy. In cases with significant lameness, surgery is the best option, especially with UAP. However, conservative treatment is often enough for cases of FMCP and OCD of the medial humeral epicondyle. The dogs are exercised regularly and given pain medication, and between the ages of 12 to 18 months the lameness will often improve or disappear. Control of body weight is important in all cases of elbow dysplasia, and prevention of quick growth spurts in puppies may help to prevent the disease. Surgery for FMCP consists of removal of cartilage and bone fragments and correction of any incongruity of the joint. Reattachment of UAP with a screw is usually attempted before the age of 24 weeks, and after that age the typical treatment is removal of the UAP. Without surgery, UAP rapidly progresses to osteoarthritis, but with FMCP osteoarthritis typically occurs with or without surgery. Osteoarthritis is also a common sequela of OCD of the humerus despite medical or surgical treatment.
Prognosis after surgery is good if degenerative joint disease has not developed in the joint. Aspirin or NSAID (eg, carprofen, etodolac, meloxicam) can be used to reduce pain and inflammation. Joint-fluid modifiers (glycosaminoglycans, hyaluronic aid) may be useful.




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About Your Dog, is your online ressource of articles on puppy and dog health, dog training and information about your pet dog