1. Hip Dysplasia
  2. Elbow Dysplasia

Orthopaedics in Animals

1. Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia Photo
This is an animal with severe Hip Dysplasia. This animal requires surgical intervention.

Orthopaedic Problems – What is hip dysplasia?
“Hip dysplasia” simply stated means an “abnormal formation” of the hip joint. The ball and socket of the hip do not fit together properly causing a damaging friction. In addition laxity or “looseness” of the joint may be present in what appears to be a normal joint. Laxity is a significant factor in the development of osteoarthritis. Hip dysplasia leads to osteoarthritis and crippling chronic pain.

Radiographs are required to diagnose hip dysplasia although symptoms can be strongly suggestive. Hip pain or hip looseness are suggestive of hip dysplasia. The animal may be lame, have difficulty standing or jumping up onto things. In severe cases, the animal may hop like a rabbit.

There are procedures in place that reputable breeders will follow to try and prevent hip dysplasia. A good breeder will have the parents hip scored. Although this system is not perfect, it is currently the only system available. A breeder who has not had the parents hip scored must be avoided. These people are reckless and irresponsible and are potentiating this disease. The affected animals live a terrible life of chronic pain.
This must be stopped

There is currently an Australian Veterinary Association scheme where the animals are hip scored from 12 months of age. In the United States this is not done until 24 months of age which is a better system. In Western Australia, Bob Wyburn in Margaret River also offers a service but he often scores dogs as young as six months of age. In our opinion this is too young as many dogs will not be showing any signs of osteoarthritis as this age. Breeders love this service as there are many false readings in young dogs. We would encourage you to choose dogs based on hip scores performed on dogs no younger than 12 months of age which is AVA recommended protocol.

There is a growing interest in the Penn HIP scheme which is growing in popularity in the US and Australia. PennHIP: (University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program).
This system measures the looseness in the joint. Joint looseness plays a huge part in the pathogenesis of degenerative joint disease and osteoarthritis. Dr Rob Hill will soon become Penn HIP accredited in order to offer an alternative to standard hip scoring systems for owners of animals.Breeders prefer the old system as it masks many dogs problems but if I was buying an expensive pure bred dog, I would want a Penn hip score.

2. Elbow Dysplasia

Forelimb lameness in young dogs is frequently due to this
Elbow Dysplasia
The elbow is made up from several components, and is one of the most complicated joints in the body. Elbow Dysplasia normally presents in young, fast growing large breed dogs and also chondrodysplastic breeds (basset hounds, dachshunds, etc). The patient is usually 4-8 months of age, but occasionally later. Elbow dysplasia is normally classified as one of the following; ununited anconeal process (UAP), fragmented medial coronoid process (FMCP), and osteochondrosis dissecans of the medial humeral condyle (OCD).

Elbow Dysplasia Photo
Fragmented medial coronoid process (FMCP)
FMCP is the most common type of elbow dysplasia, and certain breeds, are especially susceptible to this developmental condition (strong hereditary component). FMCP may rise from different pathophysiologies. One of the most frequent cause is asynchronous forearm growth, whereby the radius is lagging behind the growth of its ulnar and humeral counterpoints, causing an incongruous joint surface, as is frequently seen in young and fast growing large and giant breed dogs. FMCP occurs bilaterally in 26 percent of affected Labrador and Golden retrievers. Other causes of FMCP are Osteochrondrosis and trochlear notch malformation.

Clinical features include lameness and gait abnormalities, with reduced limb stride and abduction. The limb may also adopt an abnormal conformation, with internal rotation of the elbow with compensatory supination of the carpus and pes in an attempt to reduce weight bearing on the affected area. Joint effusion and crepitus may be present, and loss of range of movement (ROM) is likely, especially loss of extension. End result without intervention is joint instability and osteoarthritis (OA) although it appears that onset of OA is ultimately inevitable.

Surgical management may either be removal of the fragment, a low ulnar ostectomy or a dynamic ulnar osteotomy, the latter two normally performed concurrently with fragment removal. Post-operative care and physiotherapy may depend on the surgery performed, length of sequelae and the severity of OA. Appropriate analgesic medication such as NSAIDs is important to facilitate pain free rehabilitation, and may be used prior to each physiotherapy session.

Ununited Anconeal Process (UAP)

Ununited Anconeal Process (UAP)
The anconeal process is a relatively small bony projection which forms part of the ulna at the back of the elbow joint. It is critical to the formation of the elbow joint, providing stability especially when the leg is extended. In very young animals this part of the ulna is not fused with the rest of the ulna; they fuse by approximately 24 weeks of age. Sometimes, during the ossification (unifying) process the anconeal process fails to fuse, forming a separate bone, and this is called an ununited anconeal process. Dogs with UAP will develop lameness after this time. German Shepherds, Basset Hounds, and St Bernards have the highest incidence rates of UAP. It is considered a genetically transmitted disorder and affected individuals should not be bred.