An award-winning West Midlands vet practice has come to the rescue of a young cocker spaniel whose elbows were in imminent danger of breaking.
Three-year-old Winston’s bones had developed abnormally and cracks had appeared which could have led to a “catastrophic fracture” according to top vet Dr Brian Hogan.
Dr Hogan, clinical director and an advanced veterinary practice certificate holder at Black Vets, which is owned by Linnaeus and has practices in Dudley, Lye, Oldbury, Sedgley and Quinton, said Winston provided a challenging case which needed great care and absolute precision to ensure success.
He said: “Winston had an issue called a humeral intracondylar fissure in both of his elbows, which meant they hadn’t developed properly and were in imminent danger of breaking.
“It is a condition most frequently seen in Spaniel breeds and leads to a small “crack” developing in the bone which, if not treated, can develop into a catastrophic fracture in some cases.
“Winston was a serious case. A CT scan showed fissures affecting both elbows and there was also an additional crack in an adjacent part of his left elbow due to the abnormal loading of the joint.”
The solution was to strengthen and secure Winston’s joints with large 5mm diameter screws but the challenge was to insert them precisely into such a small area of bone.
Dr Hogan teamed up with Blacks Vets colleague Dr Kevin Orembo, who holds a certificate in advance veterinary practice focusing on both soft tissue and orthopaedic surgery, for the operation.
Dr Orembo explained: “Treatment involved putting as large a screw as possible through the centre of the lower part of the bone in the upper arm, the humeral condyles.
“We needed to ensure accurate screw placements, so we used the CT scan images to create a 3D replica of Winston’s bones, which meant we could prepare precise drill guides.
“Using these guides, we drilled a hole across the bone and placed a screw in each elbow to prevent them breaking. A bone plate and screws were used to address the additional crack detected in the left elbow.
“After surgery, we took X-rays of both elbows to assess how well the implants had been applied and they showed the operation had been very successful.
“Winston is now making a good recovery back at home.”
Dr Hogan added: “This was a very interesting and rewarding case. It’s only in the last few years with the wider availability of CT and 3D printing that we could have approached a case in this way.
“Previously, we would have had to insert the screw “blind” without the use of a guide. It would have been far too risky to place a screw of that size without the guides and the problem with using a smaller screw is it may well break at some stage in his life.
“There’s no such worries for Winston, though, thanks to this welcome advance in veterinary surgery.”
Blacks Vets, which has twice been voted Best UK Vet, offers annual pet health club memberships for both dogs and cats, which covers treatments such as routine health checks, vaccinations, nail clipping and microchipping.