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"Tilly" - Jack Russell with Carpus Valgus
Photo: Tilly

Most people will recognise how expensive orthopaedic fracture repair operations can be - £750-£2000! But few will perhaps appreciate that there are a number of disorders which require the surgeon to break the leg first before then repairing it!

"Tilly's" owners were referred to me from Leamington spa by their own vet who was concerned at the twisted appearance of her front leg. Despite being a Jack Russell which are tradionally known for their peculiarly shaped forelimbs, "Tilly's" left front leg was exceptionally rotated outwards (carpus valgus).

After she had been fully evaluated and radiographed it was clear that she had a marked growth deformity, (premature distal ulnar physis closure). Her right front leg was 2 cm longer than the other.

Unfortunately, for "Tilly" there are 2 long bones in the front leg which should grow in unison. If one stops growing, as was the ulna in this case, then the other bone, the radius, continues to grow. Restricted by the bone which has stopped growing, the radius continues to grow in the only direction available, which is outwards. Additionally and most importantly this has a severely adverse effect on the elbow joint causing stretching, pain and inflammation.

Surgical repair involves breaking both bones. The ulna needs to be broken to free up the elbow joint. The radius is also broken in an attempt to untwist the leg which is held with pins and clamps for 6 weeks to allow repair.

Despite having to pay me to break "Tilly's" leg both owner and patient have been exemplary in their post operative care and recovery. Consequently, we are hopeful that "Tilly's" elbow will recover sufficiently to continue her active life relatively pain free!

Photo: x-ray
Tilly's X-ray

Terry Dunne BVMS, Cert SAO, MRCVS

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