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Treatment of Dogs Diagnosed with Medial Shoulder Instability Using Radiofrequency-Induced Thermal Capsulorrhaphy


Address reprint requests to James L. Cook, DVM, Comparative Orthopaedic Laboratory, University of Missouri, 379 East Campus Drive, Columbia, MO 65211. E-mail:


Objective— To report clinical findings and outcome in dogs diagnosed with medial shoulder instability (MSI) treated with radiofrequency-induced thermal capsulorrhaphy (RITC).

Study Design— Retrospective study.

Animals— Dogs (n=43) with MSI.

Methods— Medical records from consecutive cases with MSI based on orthopedic examination, palpation of shoulder abduction angles, and arthroscopic findings were used to determine clinical findings and long-term (≥1 year) outcome of RITC.

Results— Forty-three dogs met the criteria for inclusion; 2 dogs had bilateral MSI. The most common clinical findings were chronic unilateral weight-bearing lameness, large (>45°) shoulder abduction angles, and spinatus muscle atrophy in the affected limb. Mean preoperative abduction angle (50.7°±4.8°) in affected shoulders was significantly larger than in the unaffected shoulders (32.5°±2.1°). Mean postoperative abduction angle in affected shoulders was not significantly different from unaffected shoulders when measured immediately, 8, 16–20 weeks, and ∼1 year after surgery. Follow-up evaluation ranged from 1 to 6.2 years. RITC treatment resulted in improved clinical function in 40 cases (93%) with 34 cases (79%) considered excellent; 3 cases (7%) were considered failures.

Conclusions— RITC was a safe and effective method of treatment of MSI in most dogs studied.

Clinical Relevance— RITC can be considered as a viable option for surgical treatment of selected cases of MSI in dogs.