Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD): Page 2 of 2

Treatment Options

Hip dysplasia is a very painful condition for your dog; prompt and effective treatment is necessary to stop the suffering of your pet. Treatment for hip dysplasia varies widely depending on the age of the dog at diagnosis and the progression of the disease. The earlier the disease is diagnosed, the more treatment options will be available. For young puppies, dietary modification to control rapid growth may be an effective treatment alone. Treatment with pain medication and anti-inflammatory drugs may also be possible. However, some dogs will require surgical intervention.

Several surgical options are currently available for treating the various stages of hip dysplasia. They include the triple pelvic osteotomy, femoral head and neck excision, and total hip replacement.

In very young patients (less than four months of age) fusion of the central growth plate of the pubic bones may result in improved joint development on both sides of the pelvis. This procedure is called Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis (JPS).

In older puppies (five to twelve months of age) a Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (TPO) is recommended. The TPO procedure involves precision cuts in the three bones of the pelvis to rotate and correct the angle of the hip joint. A plate and screws are used to secure the pelvis in place. During the healing process, the femoral head becomes seated deeply within the hip socket. TPO is generally performed on the worst hip first, followed by surgery on the opposite hip a few weeks later. Some patients may be candidates for Bilateral Pelvic Osteotomy (BPO), where both sides are operated on at the same time. One average, 90% of dogs achieve good to excellent results with the TPO.

Development of arthritis in a dog with hip dysplasia causes irreversible damage and pain that a triple pelvic osteotomy will not help. Instead, a salvage procedure is needed to remove the source of pain. Two such salvage procedures are the femoral head and neck excision and the total hip replacement.  

The femoral head and neck excision is the most commonly performed procedure. It involves removing the femoral head, which is the ball portion of the joint. The body's reaction to this removal is to form a false joint, which along with the surrounding pelvic muscles, mimics joint function. Although this does not return the hip to normal, it significantly relieves the pain of arthritis, making the leg more functional and comfortable. The advantage of this procedure is that it can be performed at any age, is relatively inexpensive, and has good results in the majority of dogs.

The Total Hip Replacement (THR) procedure involves removal of both the ball and socket portions of the hip joint and replacing them with artificial implants. THR is currently the best available treatment for severe hip dysplasia in large, mature dogs. Currently, the success rate is reported to be over 95%, and dogs with successful implants are able to perform almost any task performed by dogs with normal hips. Therefore, it is the treatment of choice for dogs used for working or sporting activities or when optimal hip function is desired. Candidates for total hip replacement are typically large breed dogs with irreparable disease or injury to the hip joint. The dog must be fully grown to be a candidate for THR.