Diagnostic Imaging of Canine Elbow Dysplasia: A Review


Address reprint requests to Dr. Cristi R. Cook, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVR, Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, University of Missouri – Columbia, 900 East Campus Drive, Columbia, MO 65211. E-mail: cookcr@missouri.edu.


Canine elbow dysplasia (CED) is a common developmental disorder of the cubital joint of dogs. CED is comprised of fragmented medial coronoid process (FMCP), ununited anconeal process (UAP), osteochondrosis (OC), and elbow incongruity. Multiple imaging modalities have been used to assess this complex of disorders and the severity of the pathologic changes. Radiography has been used as a surveying tool for assessment of CED for many years. Recently, alternate techniques and modalities have expanded our knowledge of CED and our clinical approach to this disorder. Nuclear medicine has been used to aid in localizing lameness to the elbow joint. Ultrasonography has proven helpful for imaging the soft tissue structures adjacent to the joint as well as superficial bone abnormalities, including visualization of FMCP. Computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging are advanced imaging modalities that allow visualization of the elbow in multiple planes and into three-dimensional reconstructions, thus allowing lesions to be more accurately and comprehensively visualized. Assessment of elbow incongruity in particular has been benefitted by these advanced imaging techniques because of the importance of sagittal and dorsal plane imaging and reconstructions for accurately determining the relationships between radial and ulnar articular surfaces. Comparative studies using multiple techniques and imaging modalities with correlation to reference standards and patient outcomes will be vital to continued progress in this area.