Joint distraction for dogs with end-stage elbow osteoarthritis

Labrador retriever with ball on grassStudy Title: Effect of joint distraction (arthrodiastasis) using an articulated external fixation device in dogs with end-stage elbow osteoarthritis
Current Status: Open and enrolling
Principal Investigator: Mike Conzemius, DVM, PhD, DACVS
Co-investigator: Christopher Hoffman, DVM - Small Animal Surgery Resident
Contacts: Dr. Hoffman, [email protected] 
Sara Pracht, Research Technician Specialist, [email protected], 612-626-3574

Study Purpose

Elbow osteoarthritis (OA) is is a chronic, progressive and debilitating disease and the most common cause of front leg lameness in dogs. The most common cause is elbow dysplasia, related to fragmentation of the medial coronoid process (FCMP). We have tested joint distraction (separating joint surfaces) in the lab and have shown that an external joint fixator can eliminate joint pressures while still allowing range of motion. We are now studying this in the canine patient for its safety and effectiveness in improving leg function. We will also save serum and synovial fluid to add to our bank for future testing.

Eligible dogs

  • dogs which have end-stage elbow arthritis in both elbows (on X-ray)
  • still have lameness even with treatment with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS), Omega-3 fatty acid diets, and weight loss if appropriate
  • weigh between 20-40 kg (44-88 lbs)
  • are willing to withdraw from NSAIDS for the 7 days prior to enrollment
  • have pain in both elbows upon physical exam
  • have lameness in one or both front legs based on force platform gait analysis
  • lameness not due to any other cause than FCMP

Study summary

The study lasts 24 weeks, with eight visits to the Veterinary Medical Center (VMC). A screening visit will include exam, X-rays (if they have not been performed within the last year), blood samples and gait analysis where we leash walk the dog over a force platform built into the floor. The study begins on Day 1 with arthroscopy under anesthesia to measure the joint and to apply the external fixator. Dogs will be given standard post-operative care with pain medications, feeding and exercise restrictions. Recheck visits will occur on weeks 2, 3, 8 and 12. The week 16 visit will have athroscopy under anesthesia to remove the external fixator and take X-rays. The final visit on week 24 will include gait analysis.

Costs of the study

The study will cover the costs of the procedures summarized above (contact us for more details). If complications related to the study procedures are encountered, the costs will be covered by the study as long as the treatment occurs at the VMC.

For more information, contact Dr. Hoffman or Sara Pracht (see above).