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Hi everyone! I was wondering if I could get some opinions and/or past experiences with your German Shepherds please? I have a beautiful 9 month old female GSD named Della who began limping on her front right leg back in May. After a trip to the vet, I was told it was growing pains and to take it easy for a while. After about a week of bed rest, Della was completely back to her normal, playful self. However, a little over a week ago, her limp returned. I brought her to the vet again and had X-rays and a CT on her arm. Although there has been nothing visibly wrong in her X-rays or CT, the vet believes it is elbow dysplasia and is encouraging surgery. Has this happened to any of you? I absolutely want to do surgery if it is going to help Della. However, I’m slightly skeptical because I do not want to put her through surgery if it is not going to help her and it is something else that is causing her pain. Thanks in advance!
 

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For what its worth I would not be doing surgery on a growing pup. Why does the vet think its dysplasia? What did the xrays show? Because I'm thinking it either is or isnt and a vet should know.
I would say make sure she is eating a balanced diet and is kept at a proper weight. Use crate rest as needed. Let her finish growing and see what happens.
 

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I agree. Why surgery if there is no evidence that elbow dysplasia is the cause?

I would at least get a second opinion from another vet.
 

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Why does the vet believe it's elbow dysplasia if it's not indicated by the CT scan? If you're in doubt, get a second opinion. Ask around and find an orthopedic vet. Asher limped on his foreleg for a few days when he was around a year old. I had x-rays taken, and the vet told me it was elbow dysplaisia and was ready to schedule surgery. I won't bore you with the details, but some things made me doubt the diagnosis, so I had him send the x-rays to specialists at a veterinary school, and I also went to a different veterinarian for another opinion and a second set of x-rays (the first set wasn't positioned very well). I figured that if I was going to spend thousands on a surgery, I might as well spend a couple hundred more to make sure it was really necessary. Turns out his elbows are normal, it was just an expensive sprain.
 

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The growing pains he mentioned are referring to panosteitis a/k/a "wandering lameness." It's bone inflammation, usually identifiable on an x-ray. It classically stays around for a few weeks, then goes away and comes back on a different leg. It's very common in this breed, and it should be the first possibility considered given your dog's age.



My view of elbows is NEVER consider surgery without (a) sending the images out for a tele-consultation with a board-certified radiologist, and (b) consulting with a board-certified vet orthopedist. The report you get in step (a) will tell you if you need step (b). This isn't something I'd leave to a regular vet to diagnose.



Elbow radiographs are very difficult to read. The risk of erroneous diagnosis is high -- the position REALLY matters for the x-ray, and there are lots of things going on that could cause lameness other than ED (from a carpal issue to even a broken toe). My own vet is a wonderful, but he's the one who taught me to send all elbow xrays to our state university's veterinary radiology department--he has no ego about it, knows they're a tricky joint, and values a second set of expert eyes on them.



The tele-radiology consultation is reasonable in cost -- $44 per x-ray view ($92 for CT) at LSU vet school, with digital x-rays uploaded electronically by a vet anywhere, with a report sent by email:
https://www.lsu.edu/vetmed/veterinary_hospital/services/diagnostic_imaging/teleradiology_service.php
(Any vet school could likely do this for your vet, and prices will vary. If nothing else, it gets you an inexpensive second opinion.)


If it turns out to be ED, I would definitely want a vet orthopedist creating the treatment plan. In mild cases, surgery may not even be needed! They may want to wait for the growth plates to close to see how the elbows finish developing, but that's for the ortho to decide. There are lots of "kinds" of ED, and lots of different surgical techniques that specialists use -- including arthroscopy (the same minimally invasive technique used in human knees).
 

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I would go to a different vet. It's most likely pano, which will clear up. Any vet that would suggest a major surgery without a definitive diagnosis needs to be fired. And I would be let anyone other that an orthopedic specialist operate on my dogs bones.
 

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By the way, who did the CT and interpreted it? This isn't a diagnostic tool usually "read" by general vets in my experience. Was there a radiology report that came with the CT imaging already? Or did they do it in-house at your vet clinic? If there's a radiology report in the file, insist on getting a copy!
 

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I also would think pano....but that's a guess from someone who's NOT a vet.....I guess I shouldn't be surprised in todays money driven..let's do a procedure world.....any vet who would cut a 9 month old pup who's bones and joints are still growing and "with nothing visibly wrong in her x-rays or CT" shouldn't be a vet anymore IMO......to the OP please find another vet......no vet I've ever dealt with would make a call like this at 9 months
 
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