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Old September 6th, 2009, 11:03 AM
Pupster Pupster is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Vancouver
Posts: 9
Surgery is being recommended for my limping dog

Hi all,

I was hoping to get your thoughts and opinions on a surgery that is being recommended for my dog. Maybe somebody out there has had a similar experience. Sorry, this post may be a bit lengthy as Iím trying to include all of the information provided by the specialist.

I have a bichon shih-tzu, Henry, who is almost 1 years old now. He has been limping on and off for the past couple of months. This happens especially after he has been playing with our dogs. Based on some x-rays, our vet originally thought that it was likely just a muscle sprain and that Henry should have some rest for several weeks. This seemed to help, however, recently we noticed that his front leg looked very bow-legged and that his paw is turned outwards.

We took him to a specialist and based on new x-rays, he has recommended that Henry get surgery to fix this issue. Following are the issues that he has explained:
- From what I understand, there are two bones in the front legÖ the ulna and the radius. Apparently, there was premature closure of the growth plate in the ulna bone (possibly due to some trauma) which has now caused the bone to stop growing. The radius, however, is still growing but canít grow straight and has now grown outwards. This has caused bone deformity, which is causing him to appear bow-legged.
- The different lengths of the ulna and radial have caused incongruity in the elbow joint, which I guess can become quite painful and is probably causing Henry to occasionally limp.
- All of the pressure has now caused his paw to turn outwards. Normally, the paw and the elbow are supposed to be aligned with one another but itís clear from the x-ray that itís completely off.

The specialist has recommended surgery as it will prevent Henry from getting arthritis early and it will correct the lameness in his leg. The elbow joint incongruity canít be corrected perfectly but the surgery will supposedly really help the problem. Following is a recap of what the specialist has recommended for the surgery:
- we would cut the ulna near the elbow to allow congruity (fit) to improve between the radius and ulna inside the elbow joint.
- the ulna would be cut down by the carpus (wrist) also, to allow manipulation of the radius.
- a wedge of bone would be removed from the radius to allow correction of foot angulation and rotation, and a bone plate and screws would be used to stabilise it.

So, Iím contemplating on whether I should get the surgery. I understand that it may prevent future potential related health problems and perhaps improve his quality of life in the long run. The specialist has told us that itís better for him to get the surgery now, while he is young so that the recovery will be easier and quicker. He has recommended that we get it done within the next 6 weeks. Iím having some doubts, however, as it seems like such a major surgery for such a young dog. The recovery period is approx 2 months. The cost is quite high (approx $4K), however, that is not the major issue as Henryís well being is much more of a concern.

If anyone could offer their thoughts or experiences, I would really appreciate it.

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Old September 6th, 2009, 11:23 AM
LavenderRott's Avatar
LavenderRott LavenderRott is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Michigan
Posts: 2,671
You pup is a year old so IMHO, not too young.

I would see if this vet has done this surgery before, how often and can you talk to a couple of people for references.

As for price - it sounds just about right for that type of surgery.
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Old September 7th, 2009, 07:51 AM
SnowDancer SnowDancer is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Toronto
Posts: 1,900
I would have the surgery done now. Your pup is definitely not too young - and actually will have a better chance for recovery and the specialist is right about it reducing the level of or chance of arthriitis - although it seems we all end up with arthritis at some point - me included. I expect that the specialist was referred to you by your vet - probably an ortho. We haven't been to an ortho yet - we had full body - neck and back surgery - on 2 mini Dachshunds - the first being not much older that your dog - disc surgeries are performed by neuros. The recovery period will be the devil but at least your dog will not risk paralysis by movement - guess that is the good news. Of course making puppy understand that he has to take it easy for a couple of months is another matter entirely. Cost wise $4,000 sounds right. We now have an American Eskimo - has managed to make it to 5 1/2 without surgery - but if he were only 1 and came down with Patellar Luxation or ACL -I would have had the surgery done then, no question. Best of luck.
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