Canine Unicompartmental Elbow Resurfacing: Surgery for Amber’s Elbow Dysplasia

Elbow dysplasia refers to malformations in the elbow joint of the dog. It is a common cause of front leg lameness in dogs.

It is a broad umbrella term that covers different problems in the dog’s elbow. Three bones meet to form the elbow joint, and they all need to develop perfectly. The different abnormalities are classified as the following conditions:

  • fragmented medial coronoid process (FMCP)
  • osteochondritis dissecans (OCD)
  • ununited anconeal process (UAP)

Your dog can suffer one or more of these conditions combined. Treatment options depend on the severity and type of the abnormality.

Further information: The Three Faces of Elbow Dysplasia

Canine Unicompartmental Elbow Resurfacing: Surgery for Amber's Elbow Dysplasia

Medial Compartment Disease (MCD)

Over time, severe chronic elbow dysplasia can lead to complete loss of cartilage on the joint’s inner side of the joint’s weight-bearing surfaces. This is referred to as medial compartment disease (MCD)—the end-stage form of elbow dysplasia. As you can imagine, the pain and lameness can be quite debilitating for the dog.

Canine unicompartmental elbow resurfacing (CUE)

CUE surgery involves resurfacing the deteriorated parts of the joint while preserving any remaining cartilage. The procedure eliminates the pain caused by grinding bone on bone. It is less invasive than total elbow replacement with faster recovery.

The method was developed for dogs whose elbow problems didn’t respond to arthroscopy and non-surgical treatment.

By focusing on the specific area of disease, the CUE implant provides relief of the pain caused by bone-on-bone grinding in this portion of the joint while preserving the dog’s own healthy cartilage in the lateral compartment. 

Animal Surgery Clinic of Billings

Further information: Elbow Dysplasia

Amber’s story

Amber was an 11-years-old, playful, happy girl primed to live a full life. But then, Amber started limping on her front left leg. Because resting Amber didn’t make any difference, her mom took her to a veterinarian. The primary veterinarian then referred Amber to an orthopedic specialist.

After examining Amber, the specialist recommended arthroscopy that allows the veterinarian to take a good look inside the joint and intervene with some types of joint damage. In Amber’s case, the procedure revealed severely damaged cartilage in both her elbows—some if it was completely gone, revealing the bone underneath. The examination also found a loose bone fragment that has broken off. No wonder Amber was so sore.

Amber’s canine unicompartmental elbow resurfacing surgery

Amber’s right elbow didn’t look as bad and she didn’t seem as lame on it. The surgeon decided to resurface her left elbow only. Amber’s surgery went well. But as she was recovering, with the left front leg feeling better, she now started limping on the other leg. Six months later, Amber was back at the hospital to have the surgery on her right elbow too.

The result

Eight months later, Amber is back to her playful, active self, pain free.

Source story:
Amber’s double CUE surgery

Related articles:
Canine Hip And Elbow Dysplasia: Are They The Same Thing?
Front Leg Lameness in a Rottweiler: Cookie’s Sore Front Legs

Further reading:
Elbow Dysplasia Treatment Options

Categories: Dog health advocacy

Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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