To operate or not?

1.02K viewsCanine Arthritis Management
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I’m hoping for some words of wisdom.  Gillie is a 9 year old lab diagnosed with right elbow OA in 2016.  He had arthroscopy in the December and managed pretty well with modified exercise and occasional Metacam until Feb this year when he got more lame.  He’s now on Metacam daily and just 15-20 minute on lead walks twice a day.

He had Arthramid injected in March with no apparent response.  The surgeon we saw for his second CT scan which showed significant worsening of his right elbow and unchanged mild OA in the left in March said there would be little benefit in repeating the arthroscopy and if we were to do another surgery he suggested the Canine Unicompartmental resurfacing surgery.  I watched the instructional video on this at the weekend along with a bunch of videos made by a canine physio in the States whose 8 year old lab had the same surgery and it’s major.  Surgery involving cutting large muscles and bone and 11 months intensive rehab.

I don’t feel this is what Gillie would want as he would probably be nearing 10.5 assuming a similar recovery (and without a live in physio!). I am in a huge dilemma as I want to do what is best for him but I’m not sure this is.  Another arthroscopy would be much less invasive but would it be worth a try?  Or do I say no more surgery and keep him as comfortable as possible with pain meds and complementary therapy?

Its a tricky age to make the call.  If he was a young dog or very old it would be a simple call to make.  Thank you!

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Hi Kathryn

Hes had one session of myotherapy and one physio now and he seems to be doing ok.  Both are of the opinion it would be wrong to operate now.  He’s on Metacam and Gabapentin but we are gradually reducing the GP dose.  I’m just having to be very strict about no off lead running as he will go crazy and flare things up.  We have lots to work on at home so fingers crossed!  Thanks for asking x

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How did the Myotherapy session go? Here hoping it helped for you!

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Hi Kathryn

He is currently on Metacam and I have added in Gabapentin for the past few days which does seem to have helped.  He is starting myotherapy on Wednesday and back to physio on the 29th of this month.  The surgeon is on study leave until mid July.

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Hi there. Sorry to hear your boy is struggling.

In terms of surgery, you’re right, it would be a big undertaking in a dog of any age but especially in an older boy so you’re right to be apprehensive about this.

As far as arthroscopy goes it will really depend on what damage there is and where in the joint it is as it will be more effective for certain conditions/problem areas than others. This is something really the surgeon with access to all the CT images will know best.

Mid he just on metacam or have you tried other additional medications or things such as physiotherapy, hydrotherapy etc to help manage him without surgery?

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