Long-term Assessment of Pancarpal Arthrodesis Performed on New Zealand Working Dogs
A.J. Worth1; W.J. Bruce2
To assess the long-term outcome of unilateral pancarpal arthrodesis (PCA) in New Zealand working dogs.
Eight Heading dogs (working collies), five New Zealand Huntaways and two gun-dogs (a Springer Spaniel and a Golden Retriever) with carpal pathology requiring arthrodesis, were treated by dorsal plate application, bone grafting and casting. All dogs were actively in work on sheep or cattle farms at the time of injury, and return to work was the desired outcome. Ability to work and owner satisfaction were investigated by a telephone questionnaire at a mean follow-up interval of 5 years.
Following arthrodesis, eight out of fifteen dogs (53%) could perform normal duties. A further four dogs (27%) could perform most duties, albeit with some allowances for lowered athleticism. Overall, 80% of the dogs treated by PCA returned to full or substantial levels of work and 12 out of 15 owners were satisfied or very satisfied with the resultant mobility and work performance of their dogs. Post-operative complications occurred in 60% of dogs but most complications did not affect the eventual outcome. Eleven owners felt the financial investment in opting for surgical repair was worthwhile.
Unilateral PCA carries a reasonably good prognosis for return to work in NZ working dogs. Good surgical technique and appropriate post-operative immobilisation is required to achieve successful arthrodesis. Care must be taken to limit post-operative complications.
This study provides prognostic information to veterinarians with working dog clients in relation to the long-term results of PCA. Working dogs that have sustained severe carpal injury including hyperextension injury, luxation and fracture, or dogs with crippling carpal osteoarthrosis can return to work after PCA. There was a trend towards poorer performance and return to work in dogs from hill country properties.