Used to Diagnose
procedures such as synovial fluid analysis which are used to diagnos
arthritis and joint disease are described.
Information from a
number of sources is often necessary to diagnose joint disease in our
dogs. Some diagnoses can be quite evident while others may require
sophisticated testing and procedures.
needs an adequate history of the problem to aid in the diagnosis or
arthritis and joint disease. Questions commonly asked include:
* What signs of
disease have you seen?
* What limitations is
the pet showing, e. g., can it jump into the car or onto a chair, go
down steps, put weight on all limbs?
* Did the condition
start suddenly or over a period of time?
* How long has it
been going on?
* Since you first
noticed it, is the problem getting better or worse?
* Is the problem
worse or better after exercise?
* Has more than one
limb been affected?
* Is the pet showing
any signs of illness besides those related directly to the joint,e.g. is
the pet eatingand drinking normally?
*Does the animal
have a specific use, e.g. field dog,show animal,sled dog?
* Do you know of any
injuries the pet has had?
* What previous
illnesses or medical conditions has the pet had?
* If the pet is young,
are other littermates affected?
* What vaccinations
has the pet received, and when?
* Is the pet taking
any medications or supplements?
* What does the pet
* Did the parents of
the pet have any muscle,nerve,joint or bone disease?
will examine the whole animal Don't be surprised inthe veterinarian
examines all the rest of the animal before concentrating on the affected
area.Mistakes can be made if we don't look at the entire animal.It is
also helpful to start examining the nonpainful areas and then move on to
those that show discomfort.
The exam will
* Weighing the animal
* Taking the
* Checking eyes, ears,
* Examining the skin
for any trauma or puncture wounds
* Examining all the
* Watching the animal
move about the exam room or outside on the grass
* Performing special
manipulations of various body parts, e.g. neck, limbs.
If the pet is in a
lot of pain,the the veterinarian may suggest lightly anesthetizing the
animal so a more complete exam can be made.
In almost all cases
of joint disease, Radiographs * x-rays* can provide valuable information
to confirm a diagnosis, asses the extent of the injury, and determine
the proper treatment.
Many times the
changes in the joint may be extremely subtle. Therefore it may be
necessary to also radiograph the opposite *normal* leg,
anesthetize the animal so he is perfectly still when the radiographs are
taken, take the radiographs of the joint from different angles, inject
dye into the joint and then retake the radiograph and or submit
the rafdiographs to a expert veterinary radiologist for interpretation.
Sometimes special radiographic equipment which is available only through
university veterinary teaching hospitals or referral centers is needed.
In addition to
radiographs, ohter procedures such as ultrasound, CAT scans and MRI's
are sometimes used.
Complete blood count
* CBC *
A complete blood
count *CBC* examines the different types of the cells in the blood. This
can give the veterinarian important clues on what may be causing a
lameness. For instance, with a bacterial infection, certain white blood
cells which help fight disease are often increased.
A chemistry pannel
will check for various substance in the blood such asglucose, calcium
and phosphorous. A chmistry pannel also includes tests that check the
health of the liver, kidneys and other organs. Chemistry values would be
abnormal in diseasessuch as diabetes, hyperparathyroidism and some
Serologic tests are
tests performed on the liquid portion of the blood to check for various
immunologic diseases (e.g.., rheumatiod
arthritis) and infections e.g., Lyme Disease). These tests are
normallynot included in the CBC or chemistry panel, and often have to be
sent to a special laboratory to be performed.
In some joint
diseases, especially if there is swelling in the joint, a fine needle
may be placed into the joint and a small amount of the joint * synovial
* fluid is removed with a needle and syringe and analyzed.The analysis
will help determine if there is a infection, an immune system
abnormality, orif trauma may have occurred. If there is a bacterial
infection present, the fluid can be cultured to determine the type of
bacteria present.Test can also be done to determine which antibiotic
would best kill that type of bacteria.
Examination of the
joint and biopsy
the above tests do not provide the infomation we need to make a firm
diagnosis. In those instances, a biopsy, or small piece of the tissue
lining the joint is removed and examined.A biopsy is especially helpful
in determinning if cancer or inflammation caused by abnormal immune
system such as in rheumatoid arthritis is present.
The biopsy may be
obtained through arthroscopy, in which an endoscope is inserted into the
joint through a tiny incision. Arthroscopic examination and surgery are
being used more and more in human and veterinary medicine. Using an
arthrascope, the veterinarian can examine the inside of the joint and
obtain biopsy material.
In some cases,
the joint may actually be surgicall opened. This is called an
arthrotomy, and is used in small dogs and cats, whose joints are too
small to examine arthroscopically.During an arthrotomy the joint can be
examined, a biopsy taken, and repairs to the joint can be made, if
information from the history, physical exam and special testing, the
veterinarian is generally able to determine the cause of the arthritis
and recommend the appropriate treatment.
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Staffordshire Bull Terrier ® All rights reserved