Issue Description 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.
Symptoms 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.
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. Elbow replacement surgery has been
developed and can be an option for treatment. The Orthopedic
Foundation for Animals in the United States will grade elbow X-rays of
dogs intended for breeding.