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  Elbow Dysplasia

 

Common names or abbreviations:

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elbow dysplasia

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osteochondrosis dissecans (OCD)

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ununited anconeal process (UAP)

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fragmented coronoid process (FCP)

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premature closure of the ulna

Description or definition:

Canine elbow dysplasia is not a specific disorder. The word dysplasia merely means “abnormal formation.”  Thus, the term elbow dysplasia encompasses a variety of developmental abnormalities that affect the elbow.  Some of the more common conditions referred to as elbow dysplasia include osteochondrosis dissecans (OCD), ununited anconeal process (UAP), fragmented coronoid process (FCP), and premature closure of the ulna.  These abnormalities can occur separately or simultaneously in the same joint.  Although the actual cause of elbow dysplasia remains speculative, the underlying abnormality appears in many cases to be the result of incongruity (a poor fit among the three bones) of the elbow joint.  Incongruity in the elbow joint is generally caused by a disparity in the growth of the radius and ulna.  For further information on common conditions that are associated with canine elbow dysplasia see the individual GTF listings for FCP, UAP, OCD, and premature closure of the ulna.

Symptoms:

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Symptoms of elbow dysplasia (ED) can begin as early as 4-6 months of age.  The affected puppy may exhibit pain, lameness or stiffness after rising.  If only one elbow is affected, or if one elbow is more severely affected than the other, a noticeable limp may be evident as the dog shifts its wait off of the painful leg.  Dogs are said to tend to bob their heads up when bearing weight on a  dysplastic limb, and bob their heads down when bearing weight on an unaffected one.  When both elbows are affected changes in gait may be more subtle.  Sometimes dogs with elbow dysplasia stand with their pasterns turned inward and toes out and move with their elbows out.  However, it is important to note that not all dogs that walk in this manner are dysplastic.

Diagnosis:

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Radiographs (X-rays) are used to diagnose most forms of elbow dysplasia.  They are also useful in assessing the degree of osteoarthritis that has set in as a result of the dysplasia.  However, some conditions can be difficult to identify on routine radiographs.  Specialized studies such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), nuclear scintigraphy (bone scans), or arthroscopy  (examination of the joint using a special instrument that is inserted into the joint through a small incision) may be needed to diagnose joint incongruity that has not yet developed into a condition that is detectable by radiography.

Treatment:

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Treatment depends on the cause of ED and the severity of the condition.  Treatment can range from conservative (crate rest and medication) to aggressive (surgery).  Surgery is more successful if the condition can be reversed before any degenerative changes have developed.  Although the causes of elbow dysplasia ultimately lead to degenerative joint disease (DJD), early surgery may delay the onset and progression of these secondary degenerative changes.

For more information about this condition, or if your dog is experiencing lameness, consult your veterinarian for advice.

 

 

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Copyright © 1998 - 2009. Shiloh Shepherd Dog™ Club of America.
All rights reserved. Revised: January 2008

The information on this website was written by ISSR breeders and other concerned individuals, however we are are NOT veterinarians. This information is being provided as a general overview, from information we were able to find about each disease through our own research. These summaries are not intended to be relied upon as medical or veterinary advice, nor do we consider ourselves experts in the veterinary field or in any of these conditions. While we do our best to provide the most up to date information, new research is constantly being done on these diseases. We recommend that you do further study and talk to your veterinarian on any topics you see here, as we cannot guarantee that the information posted here is the most current information available.  This site was originally designed and maintained by Debbie Knatz.