My last Black & White Sunday post hinted to today’s post. I have not been blogging for the last few months because I did not want to be writing about what was going to be coming up for Kona; especially because it took us several months of thinking about this surgery before we decided we were truly going to do it, and I was also a little superstitious about it all too.
WHAT DID WE DO?
In a nutshell Kona underwent an ulnar Osteotomy and a radial wedge Osteoctomy of his left front forelimb. Essentially his bones were cut, a wedge of bone was removed and his paw was rotated so that his wrist and elbow joints were parallel. It honestly took us months of weighing the pro’s and con’s of this as well as looking at the ongoing expense we had in rehab from complications of his leg break in 2011.
We have been very lucky – the end result has been very good. Kona’s leg is calcifying and it is now straight. He still needs recovery time but he continues to weight bear on it, gains strength and as the fur grows back the surgical scars will not be noticeable.
Kona now with a straight leg.
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
Last year I noticed that during training classes (obedience, rally, agility) or after long walks that Kona would be limping and would lose drive. I soon realized that he was hurting his back, was having leg spasms and was sore in his rear end and sometimes would not eat. We were doing regular chiro, water treadmill and physio exercises so there was a lot of concern as to why this was the case. We hadn’t done a follow-up x-ray of his front left leg since the plate was removed last year and what we found was saddening.
No amount of physio and rehab was going to fix this. Either we operated on Kona or we left him as is and continued with treadmill and rehab therapy indefinitely and hoped that his leg would not get worse. As it was we stopped training and focused on building leg strength and muscle mass in the event we decided to go forward with the surgery.
In September of 2011 Kona’s radius and ulna were badly broken in an accident with a dog walker. The condition of his leg was severe and two surgeries were required to put him back together again.
September 13, 2011
Compound fracture of the radius and ulna
He healed up well but with time we started to see that he was down in the pastern of that leg and his foot was starting to turn out to the left, and more so with time. The turn-out of his foot was noticeable even without an x-ray. Although it didn’t seem to bother him unless he over did it.
The x-ray’s we took earlier this year showed us that his leg was far worse than we imagined. The amount of angulation was shocking. Especially since at the time that Kona’s leg was operated on in 2011, the post-op x-ray’s showed the leg was straight.
A possible complication of a leg break with puppies is that their growth plates can be damaged. Kona was 7 months old at the time of the accident and was unfortunate in that is exactly what happened to him, but we did not realize it until earlier this year. The pre-op measurements showed that the leg had deformed to an angle of 25 degrees from the elbow to the foot. Seeing that x-ray was as heartbreaking as the day his leg was broken. The twisted look of that leg haunted me for months.
x-ray of Kona’s front legs from February of 2013. The left forelimb is deformed and the wrist and elbow are not in line as they are in the right limb.
Not only was it a problem that his leg was bent, he was not weight bearing and walking correctly on his front end and we also saw that he was putting too much weight on his back legs and was standing odd to spread out his weight.
The ortho vet we saw was fabulous. She simply explained that we did have a surgical option. She could perform an Ostectomy / Osteotomy to straighten his leg. She’d done many of these surgeries on small dogs that had experienced broken limbs as puppies just as Kona had. This sounded good in theory but we had to weigh out the pro’s and con’s and we took our time with it.
– successful surgery would leave Kona with a straight leg
– he would be able to weight bear on his front end and take the excess weight of his rear end
– there would be less impact to his back and shoulders
– would no longer have as limited range a of motion in his wrist
– Kona was often in pain after walks or play sessions and was becoming pain reactive towards other dogs
– there’s always a concern with anesthetic and small dogs – expecially when the time under anesthetic is longer
– the surgery may not work and we still have a bent leg
– the bones do not calcify and we lose the leg
TIME FOR SURGERY
In the end we did the surgery on June 6, 2013. The surgery went very well and the post op x-rays showed that the bones were straightened and the wrist was now in line with his Elbow. So far so good. The surgeon had used a permanent plate with six screws to hold everything together but we had a long road to recovery.
His leg was splinted up and now came the hard part. Keeping him calm and making sure the bones were able to heal but we also had do to range of motion exercises to keep his wrist from getting too stiff again.
The first two weeks were really tough. Kona was in a significant amount of pain, had a poor appetite and we struggled to keep him fed. We kept him confined during these early weeks and he was not allowed to do stairs, walk for more than potty breaks and no playing with CB.
At two weeks post op the suture was removed and we started water treadmill.
Once we got past those first couple of weeks his recovery has been tremendous. It’s now been just over eight weeks since his surgery. The last x-ray’s looked really good and showed re-calcification of bone. He has been moving really well and the way he stands looks different – more balanced. So much so that our vet has informed us that our rehab is done. We had our last water treadmill session last Monday.
Unbelievable. He is now back to this. A happy little dog that just wants to play.
Am I glad we did this? Absolutely but I hope to never have to make a decision like this again.