Elbow dysplasia is a condition involving multiple developmental abnormalities of the elbow-joint in the dog, specifically the growth of cartilage or the structures surrounding it. These abnormalities, known as 'primary lesions', give rise to osteoarthritic processes. Elbow dysplasia is a common condition of certain breeds of dogs.
Most primary lesions are related to osteochondrosis, a disease of the joint cartilage, and osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), the separation of a flap of cartilage on the joint surface. Other common causes of elbow dysplasia include an ununited anconeal process (UAP) and fragmented or ununited medial coronoid process (FCP or FMCP).
Osteochondritis dissecans is difficult to diagnose clinically as the animal may only exhibit an unusual gait. Consequently, OCD may be masked by, or misdiagnosed as, other skeletal and joint conditions such as hip dysplasia. The problem develops in puppyhood, although often is subclinical, and there may be pain or stiffness, discomfort on extension, or other compensating characteristics. Diagnosis generally depends on X-rays, arthroscopy, or MRI scans. While cases of OCD of the stifle go undetected and heal spontaneously, others are exhibited in acute lameness. Surgery is recommended once the animal has been deemed lame; otherwise, non-surgical control is usually used.