Harvey is a pretty typical, “crazy” young Springer Spaniel. Unfortunately, he developed a condition which occurs almost solely in Springers, right in the middle of lockdown.
Harvey started limping on his right front leg and when I manipulated his elbow, he reacted dramatically.
Diagnosis can be a complicated and sometimes inexact process, but Harvey clearly had pain in his elbow and with his age & breed I suspected a distal humeral, intercondylar fracture. X-rays showed a likely lesion and we decided to send him for a CT scan for two reasons.
Firstly, to absolutely confirm our diagnosis as he would need a major operation to repair any fracture. Secondly, the scan would allow a 3D model of Harvey’s elbow to be produced.
The model was used to create a set of drill guides which would enable us to drill a very precise hole across the fractured bone for a large screw to be placed.
This particular type of fracture surgery has a higher than usual complication rate. Due to the forces which act on the elbow bones, there is a risk of the screw fatiguing over time and breaking. For this reason, we choose the largest screw that will reasonably fit within the bone, to ensure maximum strength.
The screw also has a solid shaft for most of its length giving maximum strength at the fracture line.
When drilling the hole through the bone, precision is essential. A slight change of angle could mean the drill coming out of the bone at the wrong place and potentially affecting the joint longer term.
The 3D model & drill guides are designed to make the screw placement as accurate as possible, thus reducing the risk of complications.
I’m pleased to say that Harvey’s surgery went very well and that he recovered uneventfully. He no longer limps and he is a much happier, more content dog which shows how painful he must have been with his fracture. I trust that his right elbow will remain comfortable & that he doesn’t experience any complications.
There is risk that his other elbow may develop the same issue so Harvey is on modified exercise for the rest of his life to reduce the stress on his elbows longer term. Despite this slight restriction, Harvey should be able to lead a happy & active life and we hope that’ll be the end of his elbow troubles.
Enjoy your pets
Ps many thanks to Harvey’s owners for allowing us to tell his story
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