Correction of Flexor and Angular Front Limb Deformities in a Juvenile Giraffe with Tendonitis (Giraffa camelopardalis)
A seven-day-old male giraffe (Giraffa cameleopardalis) calf presented with swelling over the dorsal aspect of the right and later both carpal joints. Over the following week ability to stretch both carpal joints was gradually lost and angular deformities with valgus at the right carpus and varus at the left developed. Radiography of carpus and ultrasonography of soft tissue revealed pronounced tendonitis of the extensor tendons on both front limbs.
Treatment with meloxicam (0.6 mg/kg SID, Metacam, Boerhinger Ingelheim) and padded bandages over both carpal joints, changed daily did not result in any improvement over the course of one week. Both front limbs were then splinted with patted splints made from 6 mm thick, 150 mm diameter uPVC (un-plasticized polyvinyl chloride) drainage pipes. The flexor deformity gradually decreased over the course of four weeks with splints changed twice a week. After four weeks, normal range of motion had been restored for right carpus and significant improvement, though still slight flexion and mild mechanical lameness was observed on the left. The angular deformity did not improve significantly with the splints.
At 80 days of age a periosteal transection and elevation was performed using the technique described for equine angular limb deformities.1 The angular deformities completely resolved within four weeks post-surgery. At six months of age normal range of motion was fully restored in both carpal joints. Application of this surgery in foals is controversial2 and the authors cannot exclude the possibility that the deformity would have resolved without surgery.
The authors wish to thank His Highness Sheik Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum and Mr. Humaid Obaid al Muhari, Dubai Falcon Hospital Director, for their continued support of Wadi al Safa Wildlife Centre. We would also like to thank the animal care staff at Wadi al Safa Wildlife Centre and Dr. Wouter Pieters for providing radiographs of a young giraffe for comparison.
1. Auer JA. Angular limb deformities. In: Auer JA, Stick JA, eds. Equine Surgery, 4th ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2012;1210–1213.
2. WT Baker, Slone DE, Ramos JA, Santschi EM, Lord LK, Adams SB, et al. Improvement in bilateral carpal valgus deviation in 9 foals after unilateral distolateral radial periosteal transection and elevation. Vet Surg. 2015;44(5):547–550.