Arthroscopy has long been the gold standard for investigation & surgery of human and equine joint disease due to the minimal disruption of joint structures and the more rapid return to function post surgery. There are many applications for arthroscopy in small animal surgery in particular for investigation of Osteochrondrosis/ OCD, elbow disease, meniscal injuries and shoulder bicepital tendon disease.
We have found arthroscopy most useful to date in the investigation, diagnosis and treatment of fragmented coronoid process (FCP) in elbow disease as this condition cannot be easily diagnosed from radiography until late in the disease when evidence of osteoarthritis has already occurred. This condition occurs frequently in Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Rottweilers and Newfoundlands and presents as a persistent sometimes bilateral foreleg lameness at 6-7 months old onwards, although many dogs present many years later in life.
Minimally invasive arthroscopy gives a clear and extremely detailed picture of the cartilage surface and permits probing for fissures and flaps, allowing diagnosis and surgery to be performed before the onset of advanced osteoarthritis. The earlier the diagnosis and treatment of OCD / FCP the better is the long term outcome.
Due to the small skin incision and minimal periarticular trauma involved most dogs are weight bearing immediately after arthroscopic surgery with less post op complications than with standard open arthrotomy.
1.5cm cartilage flap removed by arthroscopic surgery from an OCD lesion on the medial humeral condyle of a 7 month old chocolate labrador.
Follow these links for more on arthroscopy:
OCD of the medial humeral condyle - cartilage disease
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