A holiday walk across Perranporth beach took a very nasty turn for one little dog called Rosie, a very cute 6 year old spaniel.
Her elbow joint was carrying a silent weakness, a tiny flaw that was quietly building into a stress fracture. This is a condition seen uncommonly in young puppies of any breed (typically with a fall from a height) or more frequently in spaniels of young to middle years.
The flaw in the connection between the two ‘nuggets’ of bone just above the elbow can spread, with little or no outward sign, until a chance moment when it completes to a fracture. Most are fortunate, and only one nugget, on the outside, seperates off.
Some are less lucky, and the fracture spreads into the shape of a ‘Y’, with both sides broken away from the main shaft of the bone.
The elbow is an unforgiving joint. It is a tight fit of one upper arm bone, the humerus, with two forearm bones, the radius and the ulna. The radius, shaped like a pit prop or strut, takes most of the animal’s weight. The ulna hooks around the elbow, holding it securely and effectively-elbow dislocation is extremely rare in dogs.
This construction means for an elbow to function comfortably it must be precisely aligned, and following a Y fracture all pieces must be reconstructed not just precisely but also very robustly- it is a high load bearing joint.
Our X-Ray shows Rosie’s elbow before and after fixation, with a variety of metal plates and screws contoured to the curve of her bone, a fixation using a range of sizes and types of implant including the latest locking technology, all of which we hold in stock at the hospital so cases like this can receive rapid and secure fixation.
Less than 24 hours after taking a tumble, Rosie took her first tentative steps post-operatively. She has 2-3months of physiotherapy ahead, but we waved her on her way back home with her relieved owners and a good prognosis.
Images show an Intercondylar Y-fracture repaired with 4.5mm intercondylar screw, 2.7mm DCP medially and 2.7mm locking plate laterally.
If anybody can fix this dog Penmellyn vets can. Always excellent!
The large oblique cranial fragment presents a challenge
International Women’s Day today…here’s anaesthetic nurse Sarah….
Early onset elbow arthritis meant he was becoming limited in his movement