Surgery for elbow osteoarthritis – help

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Heidi is 5 years old and a German Shepherd x Collie. She was diagnosed with Fragmented Coronoid Process at 2.5 years old and she had arthroscopies in both elbows to remove fragments of bone. Recovery went well and she was sound for approximately 2years. 6 months ago she started to limp again and it became progressively worse. We finally got referred to the specialist vet at the beginning of June and he talked us through all our options from pain management, injections of Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and briefly touched on surgery. We opted for another CT scan to see the level of progression and the PRP injections. The CT scan showed significant advancement in the osteoarthritis in both her elbows. The first round of PRP injections didn’t do anything for her unfortunately so we went back to the vets last week. He said we can have another round of PRP injections as sometimes dogs do not respond to the first. He also talked us through two surgical procedures that Heidi would be suitable for as long as the lateral compartment of her elbow is still healthy. We would do the right elbow first as this seems significantly worse at the moment. Both surgeries sound pretty scary. I wasn’t ready to make surgery decisions at that time so opted for some more PRP injections and these seem to of given Heidi some slight relief. I’m currently trying to research the two procedures which are bioblique proximal ulna osteotomy (BOPUO) and unicompartmental elbow replacement (CUE) so would love to know if anyone has had any experience with these please? It’s such a difficult call to make but my feeling is that if she needs surgery then having it done sooner rather than later must make sense… I’m just not sure how to approach knowing what the best options are for Heidi.

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Sounds like another consult would be a good idea – maybe take a note pad with you and jot down all the pros and cons of each? Ask about different recovery times, success rates, surgeons preference/which they are more confident with in a dog of her size/with her condition… decide what is most important to you out of those things and go from there

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Thanks for these Bev, once I’m done with work today I’ll have a good look. She really looked crap today. I thought I was going to have to get the husband to come pick us up from our 15 minute walk. The husband wants another consultation before we make our minds up how we proceed. It is so very difficult. Xx

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Hi Sian, as you know my 9yo Lab has elbow OA as well.  He’s 9 so the surgery desison is really hard, as you say they are large surgeries.  The only one suggested for Gillie is the CUE surgery which I’ve been researching.  I found a YouTube channel from a canine physio in the states who recorded her 8yo labs recovery which is quite interesting.

You can also watch the surgery, which has put me off somewhat for Gillie due to his age but Heidi is a good bit younger than him.

I know just how hard the decision is, if only they could speak!

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