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Research Updates: The efficacy of elbow replacement in dogs


This study provides reasonable evidence that elbow joint replacement could offer similar success rates as those of hip surgery (90%).

In this clinical investigation, 20 adult dogs with severe elbow osteoarthrosis unresponsive to medical treatment underwent unilateral total elbow arthroplasty. The implants consisted of stainless steel humeral and polyethylene radioulnar components and varied in size.

The dogs weighed between 53 and 103 lb (24 and 47 kg), and most dogs (16) had idiopathic causes of arthritis. Two treatable intraoperative complications occurred: a lateral elbow luxation and a fractured humeral condyle. Postoperative complications in four dogs included osteomyelitis, refracture of the humeral condyle, and another case of lateral elbow luxation. A satisfactory outcome, characterized by improved limb function (determined by force platform gait analysis), decreased elbow pain, and decreased lameness, was achieved in 16 dogs (80%) within a year after surgery.


Elbow arthrosis represents nearly 7% of all joint diseases and is associated with fractures, luxations, or developmental diseases. Treatments include surgery and medical therapies, and results vary depending on the cause and severity of the lesion. Joint replacement in animals is often performed for severe hip joint diseases and promotes excellent recovery from lameness. This study provides reasonable evidence that elbow joint replacement could offer similar success rates as those of the hip surgery (90%). The authors state that increased experience with the technique and refinement of the prostheses may make this procedure clinically relevant in the near future.

Conzemius, M.G. et al.: Short-term outcome after total elbow arthroplasty in dogs with severe, naturally occurring osteoarthritis. Vet. Surg. 32 (6):545-552; 2003.

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