Crispie fights back from a pathological humeral fracture.

Crispie, a much loved Golden Retriever, presented to the clinic in October 2013 with a fractured humerus. X-rays of the injured leg however proved the fracture to be even more concerning than first thought. The x-rays showed that the humerus was very abnormal and that this fracture was more likely linked to a problem with the bone rather than trauma. A CT scan was taken of Crispie’s humerus which confirmed our suspicions – Crispie had suffered a pathological fracture of his humerus caused by a bone tumour.

Crispie was staged to identify if there was any spread of the cancer to other areas of his body. A CT scan of the chest and abdomen was carried out and thankfully spread of the cancer elsewhere in Crispie’s body was not identified. While the news was positive for Crispie there were some difficult decisions to be made regarding Crispie’s future. Golden Retrievers regularly suffer from a condition called elbow dysplasia which causes osteoarthritis of the elbow joints. Sadly Crispie had advanced osteoarthritis of bone elbows and simply would not cope with an amputation of the limb affected by cancer. The only hope for Crispie was to salvage his limb using a tumour endoprosthesis which would allow Crispie to retain a functional forelimb and most importantly get Crispie out of pain and remove the tumour.

Our engineering team were forwarded the imaging data from Crispie’s CT scan and they immediately got to work designing an endoprosthesis to replace Crispie’s fractured humerus. Working long into the night, Noel and the engineers finalised a design for Crispie’s implant and manufacture was started the next day! Within a few days the implant arrived and Crispie’s tumour was removed and the endoprosthesis implanted. The implant had to remove Crispie’s shoulder joint as the cancer had spread to the top of humerus. This meant we effectively carried out a shoulder fusion, or arthrodesis, to achieve the tumour removal.

Crispie underwent intensive physiotherapy over the next 3 weeks to teach him how to walk on his operated leg. It wasn’t long before Crispie got the hang of walking with a fused shoulder joint. Dogs with fused shoulder joints learn to mimic shoulder flexion and extension by gliding their scapula (shoulder blade) along the side of their chest. While Crispie was with us he also underwent chemotherapy to try and mop up any microscopic cancer which may have been too small to be identified during the pre-operative cancer staging.

We are now 8 months post-surgery and as you can see from the pictures Crispie is living his life to the full! There is a likelihood Crispie’s cancer will return, sadly bone cancer is a destructive disease that we are learning more about every day. We continue to recheck Crispie on a regular basis and will keep you updated on his progress.

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Lally Baker

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