Fragmented coronoid process
This condition is usually associated with severe elbow incongruity and characterized by a distracted coronoid fragment abrading the adjacent humeral cartilage, causing arthritis and pain.
The cause(s) of this disease are numerous such as genetic predisposition, over-nutrition and heavy exercise while young, leading to unusual weight-bearing on an eccentrically-deformed and immature joint. Trauma may also cause this disease, and has been reported in toy-breeds.
Like osteochondritis dissecans, fragmented coronoid process is observed in fast growing large-breed dogs such as the Rottweiler, Golden Retriever, St. Bernard, Bernese Mountain Dog, Newfoundland and German Shepherd.
The medial coronoid process of the distal elbow joint consists of cartilage until the 4 -5 months of age, when ossification starts. During this period it is very sensitive to stress. Frequently both front legs are affected. Most of the affected dogs show a higher bodyweight compared to other puppies of the same age ( weight about 17-25 kg and higher), and males are more commonly affected.
The development of OCD and/or FCP is promoted by overnutritition (high protein, high energy, additional supply of minerals, Ca++) because the genetic predisposition for fast growing will be used and disturbances of enchondral ossification becomes more likely. Dogs with early exercise are more often affected.
Clinical signs are often apparent by 7 - 8 months of age and include lameness, decreased joint movement during manipulation of the elbow joint, pain and joint effusion.
Diagnosis is usually confirmed by radiography, which can be difficult due to superimposition of the joints of the elbow and may required varying angle shots or use of CT scans.
Osteophytes and osteosclerosis are good indicators of disease, best visualized on a flexed lateral view, especially at the proximal aspect of the anconeal process. Craniocaudal views show lipping and osteophytosis in the region of the medial coronoid process and epicondyles. Other radiographic signs include abnormal shape of the joint, sclerosis and lucency affecting the medial coronoid process, subchondral sclerosis of the ulna and humerus and irregular radial incisure of the ulna.
Medical treatment (e.g. carprofen, meloxicam) may be advised in cases with intermittent lameness. Dietary restrictions appear to have limited ability in corecting teh developing inflammatory joint disease.
Surgical removal of the fractured coronoid process is usually recommended, but is not without disadvantages.
The prognosis is guarded since dogs with fragmented coronoid process invariably develop varying degrees of osteoarthrosis of the elbow joint despite conservative or surgical treatment.
- Phillipe Duponant
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