Ohio State Vet Performs First Dog Elbow Replacement In Ohio

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In the last generation, joint replacements have become common.  Now an OSU veterinarian has done one on a dog.  He's not only helping man's best friend, but also what he and other vets are learning, may help people, too.

OSU veterinary surgeon Dr. Laurent Guiot, coaxed a golden labrador retriever to come to him.  Then he gently lifted her left foreleg.

"So this is the range of motion that she's getting," he said.

It's up to 90 percent of normal, which pleased him.  Lottie, the seven-year-old lab, developed osteoarthritis in an elbow.

"That osteoarthritis is very painful and causes different degrees of disability in dogs," he said.

Left unchecked,  the joint would stop working. So Dr. Guiot performed the first elbow replacement on a dog in Ohio. It's possible, thanks to advances in technology that created an artificial elbow.

"The elbow is arguably one of the most complex joints in the body. It's the same for people and in dogs.  And it is mainly because there are three bones that are involved," he explained.

Next, the veterinarian and a technician put Lottie through her paces.  They encouraged her to walk on a mat rigged with sensors so Dr. Guiot could check her gait.  It measured how much weight she put on each leg, and showed that she did not favor the leg with the implant. 

Dr. Guiot said what veterinarians are learning about joint replacements in dogs, also may help their owners.

"The biggest challenge that we face as a profession, is to make sure that we can translate what we see on dogs towards people, too," he said.

Lottie is recovering ahead of schedule and soon will be home again.  Veterinarians say bigger and heavier dogs are more prone to joint problems.