Canine Hip Dysplasia is a highly preventible condition of dogs (cats can also suffer from hip dysplasia) which is genetically transmitted from one or both parents to their offspring.
The end result is poor hip conformation.
A normal canine hip joint is a ball-and-socket joint in which at least two-thirds of the ball (femoral head) portion of the joint is set inside the socket (acetabulum). In addition, the ball is secured to the pelvis by the round ligament and the joint capsule. The round ligament is a tough, fibrous tendon-like structure. The joint capsule is a Saran Wrap®-thickness material that also serves to seal lubricating fluids inside the joint.
As you can see by Jabba’s hip radiographs,
the conformation of his hip joints is very poor, worse on the left than the right.
When femoral head and acetabulum fit poorly, there is little bony support for the weight of the back half of the body. Body weight and normal activity force the ball portion of the joint to move far from the limitations of the socket, tearing the round ligament as well as the joint capsule. The constant abnormal movement causes the bone to react with osteophytes, more commonly called “bone spurs.” These are the radiographic evidence of arthritis.
The pain can be excruciating. I once had a patient only twelve weeks of age who was unable to walk from the pain of hip dysplasia.
Canine hip dysplasia’s severity is graded on a scale. Generally speaking, the worse the degree of dysplasia the greater the pain and the faster the development of arthritis.
Several surgical treatments are available. The ultimate is Canine Total Hip Replacement. This procedure is performed at most veterinary teaching hospitals and many referral hospitals who employ board-certified veterinary surgeons. Both the appliances and technique are similar to those used in humans.
In patients under one year of age who have very little or no arthritis present, Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (TPO) is an option. A complicated operation. the acetabulum is surgically rotated to sit “above” the femoral head so that greater weight-bearing is achieved. This procedure is also usually performed by boarded surgeons, but some general practitioners with a strong interest in orthopedics can do an excellent job.
Essentially a salvage procedure, the Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO) is within the surgical skills of most general practitioners and is characterized by the removal of the head and neck of the femur. Then, instead of the dog bearing his weight with the defective joint, he forms a “false joint” or pseudoarthrosis of fibrous tissue and supports himself in that way. Such patients must maintain a minimum body weight, as they lack normal carrying capacity. Also, the largest individuals, even with good weight control, may suffer from collapse later in life. FHO is most commonly employed when funds are too limited for the pet owner to afford a more expensive surgery.
Canine Hip Dysplasia makes an excellent case for pet insurance from Veterinary Pet Insurance.
When surgery is not an option, standard arthritis control techniques may be used, including antiinflammatories such as Rimadyl and neutraceuticals for joint healing. Dasuquin and Adequan are excellent examples, and ones we use in our practice.
Hip dysplasia is not a death sentence. Nor is it something that can be ignored, as pets suffer far too much to allow it to continue untreated.
See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.