A new condition in the Border Collie?
As a veterinary orthopaedic surgeon, Mike Guilluard finds that the Border Collie is one of the few breeds not plagued by inherited lameness problems. Hip dysplasia occurs in the breed but infrequently causes a clinical problem; and elbow dysplasia, so common in retrievers and shepherds, is non-existent. Likewise cruciate disease in the stifle joint, our commonest orthopaedic condition, is very rare. However, in March Sue Duncan's dog Teddy needed an operation for this 'new' condition in the breed - Tarsal Lameness.
Lameness problems in Border Collies are usually the result of an accident or degenerative joint disease also called 'wear and tear.' This problem becomes most apparent in the older dog after a lifetime of ball chasing and retrieving resulting in stiffness with a decreased range of motion in the small joints between the toes and the metacarpal bones. However degenerative changes to the tarsus are a very common coincidental finding that has been recognised for a number of years but, until now, have not been associated with lameness.
The tarsus is that small area of the hind leg between the hock (ankle) joint and the metatarsal bones. It consists of three rows of bones separated by low motion joints and supported by a very strong plantar ligament running down the back surface. Typical degenerative changes seen on X-rays are new bone at the attachments of the plantar ligament and a bony bridging of the lower tarsal joint technically called the centrodistal joint as it is between the central tarsal bone and the second and third tarsal bones on the front of the inside tarsus.
Centrodistal joint lameness has been identified by myself over the last three years as a common cause of chronic hind limb lameness in the Border Collie and the question arises as to why this condition has not been recognised until now. The reason is that diagnosis is bases solely on a specific manipulative manoeuvre that applies rotational stress to the inside of the tarsus. Diagnosis is supported by degenerative signs on X-ray but these are not always present. Other causes of hind limb lameness also have to be eliminated.
The other commonly affected breed is the racing Greyhound in which a tarsal sprain injury is recognised. The clue to the successful treatment came from an original case in a Border Collie that had had severe lameness for four months prior to my examination. This dog had degenerative changes to the attachments of the plantar ligament but had bony bridging in the sound tarsus. With trepidation the lame tarsus was burred, bony bridging occurred and the rest is history.
He is an active member of the Society of Greyhound Veterinarians and is involved in the veterinary care of a number of top greyhound kennels.
For more information, contact Mike
Guilliard MA VetMB CertSAO MRCVS,