College News

A (canine) leg up on arthritis

newfyNOTE: This study has been completed. We are not currently seeking candidates.

Large-breed dogs like Labradors, Newfoundlands and Rottweilers can suffer from a forelimb lameness when they are puppies, which may result in a significant lameness later in life.

One of the more common causes of this disability is a bone problem within the elbow joint called fragmented coronoid process, or FCP. The condition is a result of the ulna (one of the three bones that makes up the elbow) growing faster than the bones next to it, creating extra pressure in the elbow joint and causing the ulna to chip.

For year, veterinarians have been removing the bone chip to help dogs heal, but this treatment does not prevent the dogs from developing arthritis later in life. Now Dr. Ursula Krotscheck, assistant professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine, is evaluating if an additional procedure to treat FCP that may prevent arthritis for these dogs in the future.

When Dr. Krotscheck removes the bone chip in dogs with FCP, she also makes a cut in the ulna that allows it to rotate out of the way, reducing any unnecessary pressure in the elbow.

“The ulna is a non-weight bearing bone, meaning that a cut in it will not affect the dog's gait or comfort,” she explained. “The bone can sink down if it needs to relieve pressure. And the dogs heal completely after six to eight weeks.”

Dr. Krotscheck is conducting a study funded by a grant from the Morris Animal Foundation. Dogs with FCP under one year old are randomly assigned to have the traditional treatment or the new method, and then followed for a year after surgery.

To date, eight dogs have entered the study, which is completely free to their owners. Twelve more are required before Dr. Krotscheck will have any preliminary results. Drs. Margret Thompson, a lecturer in Radiology, Jeremy Rawlinson, PhD, and Rory Todhunter, professor of surgery are collaborators on the study.

“We have hopes that this procedure will improve the lives of these dogs, and help them maintain healthier joints later in life,” Dr. Krotscheck said. For more information regarding this study, Dr. Krotscheck can be contacted at the Cornell University Hospital for Animal (607) 253-3060.