Canine Angular Limb Deformities
occurs when the bones of a limb do not grow in proper alignment, resulting in bending and twisting of the bones in either the radius/ulna of a front leg or tibia/fibula of a hind leg.
This condition can usually be attributed to growth plate damage in a young dog, and surgical correction is the only treatment for this condition. If left untreated, degenerative joint disease will progress rapidly in the affected limb.
- Bowing of the affected limb
- Outward rotation of the limb
- One limb shorter than the other
- Pain on palpation of the elbow and/or carpal (wrist) joints (due to malalignment/incongruity of the joint)
- Reduced range of motion in joints
Symptoms typically become noticeable 3 to 4 weeks after some sort of trauma and worsen over time.
The goal of corrective surgery is to align the deformed bones at the proper angles to reduce pain and joint degeneration. The procedure involves cutting the bone to align at the proper angle, and fixating the bone with pins, screws, plates, external skeletal fixation, or a combination of these methods. Depending on the specific deformity of the limb, there will either be a wedge of bone removed or a rotation of the bone pieces to create the normal angle. Following corrective surgery for angular limb deformity, the hardware is the only thing holding the bone together until full bone healing has been confirmed by radiographs, usually at least 12 weeks after surgery.
As with all orthopedic surgery, strict activity control is essential to recovery after angular limb deformity correction. It is especially serious when considering that the bone has been completely separated and needs to grow back together before increasing the pet’s activity level. The ultimate determination for fixation of the bone will be made by the veterinary surgeon based on the type and location of the deformity and the age and activity level of the dog.