Joint fusion or amputation?

Starzaan

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20 January 2010
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2,906
Just off to the vets to discuss whether we have the lurcher’s wrist joint fused or amputate the leg following exhausting all other options.

The vet believes that fusion is the better option, but I have never heard of fusion that was successful and didn’t result in eventual amputation.

I was just wondering if anyone had experience of fusion and if it was successful in the long run?
 
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Not a wrist but we had a successful hock fusion in a (smaller) agility dog in 2001. She went back to competition albeit over smaller fences than previously, but competed up to 2006 and retired for a completely unrelated matter. Never gave her a days problem, the biggest issues were our nerves in letting her go back to it. Oh, and you could fell the screw heads under her skin when was a bit weird.
 

deb_l222

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19 January 2012
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Barnsley
I have no experience at all of fusion but I just wanted to sympathise as it must be a tough decision.

I think dogs cope well on 3 legs and I was all for amputating Willow's dodgy leg but her other back leg wasn't stable enough to carry the weight of two, so surgery was the option chosen (luxating patella). I can't however say it's been 100% successful and she will never lead a normal springer life. It's a fine line between her doing too much and having a life at the moment.
 

Starzaan

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Thank you both so much for your input.

We have decided to go for the fusion as he is so sensitive the vet is worrying that if we amputate he will be in just as much pain again within two or three years and there will be nothing left to do. Not fun, but actually it feels lovely to have made the decision - he's been lame for almost a year now with this and the vets have been amazing and tried every other option.

Our only worry now is that the healing process sounds very intense!
 
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I had a greyhound who had a localised severe bacterial infection of her hind leg - I was terrified of amputation, and my vets were fabulous in trying everything to save the leg. Several thousand pounds in vets bills later they told me that there was no option but to amputate.... my emaciated, depressed, lethargic and unhappy dog was home the next day racing around the garden with the others, up and down steps and thoroughly enjoying life again! My own fear was what stopped me making the decision, as soon as I saw how she managed I wished I had had it done immediately. I appreciate it won't be the same for every dog, but she went on to enjoy a full and happy life (her owners after me were somewhat lax, and she enjoyed chasing cats a great deal since they gave her the chance!) and I never regretted the decision.

I would try fusion first in your position, but I would never fear amputation as I did before
 
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my Rottie had bone cancer in her back leg which we ultimately had to amputate she coped very well on three legs. Someone I know has a small lurcher who fell out of a first floor window and damaged its front leg which it now drags about - she will not have it amputated even though the dog is distressed as it is.
 

Starzaan

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Joined
20 January 2010
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2,906
my Rottie had bone cancer in her back leg which we ultimately had to amputate she coped very well on three legs. Someone I know has a small lurcher who fell out of a first floor window and damaged its front leg which it now drags about - she will not have it amputated even though the dog is distressed as it is.
Oh my goodness poor Lurcher!

Thank you all so much for your advice and kind words - it's much less of a daunting decision when you've heard from people who have been through it.

He damaged his left foreleg in April last year running through the snow, and it was literally hanging. He is particularly pathetic and sensitive, and so despite the arthritic changes and the small chip of bone he should now be fine and back to normal, but unfortunately he is still very lame despite a year of therapy, pain killers, restricted activity etc.

He is a rescue who spent his first three years on the streets in Liverpool, and so despite only being 7 he has very poor joint health due to being malnourished as a puppy. This has definitely affected the healing of this injury.

The vet decided that as he is so sensitive, if we were to amputate the leg he would be in just as much pain a couple of years down the line given the extra wear and tear on the remaining limb, so we are going for fusion with our fingers firmly crossed!

Thank you all again - I shall keep you updated!
 
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