Sometimes ligaments fail or joints breakdown in a way such they either are not repairable or are unable to heal. Under such circumstances it may be possible to save a limb by using a fusion or arthrodesis technique.
An arthrodesis is a technically demanding procedure requiring strict attention to surgical technique, bone grafting, asepsis and sympathetic soft tissue handling in order to achieve successful outcomes.
Falling from a height or trapping a forelimb in a hole can lead to serious failure of the support to the underside of the carpus (wrist joint).
The supporting ‘fibrocartilage’ is unable to heal and therefore the carpus can be set in a standing position by application of custom plates to the front and or side of the carpus.
Intertarsal and tarsometatarsal arthrodesis
Occasionally as the result of trauma or more often as the result of obscure degenerative processes (particularly in Collie breed dogs), the ligaments on the backside of the tarsus fail causing a collapse of the tarsus.
The failed ‘plantar’ ligament is unable to heal. Normal use of the hind limb can be restored by application of a bone plate to the side of the tarsus.
Chronic arthritis of the talocrural (ankle) joint or long term rupture of the Achilles tendon are occasional and very disabling causes of hind limb lameness in dogs and cats. On occasion the pain and joint dysfunction may not be controllable with drugs.
Application of highly specialised plates to either the front or side of the tarsus, fixing the joint in a useful standing angle is one method of saving the hind limb, allowing a return to activity.