My New Job, Dwellings, Caput Ossis Femoris

My new job is great - I am managing a portfolio of projects which involve everything from infrastructure to digital media to web sites and more. It is sort of surreal being back at this company, I was here 6 years ago and due to department changes, corporate ownership swaps and finally the dissolution of the division I was in, I ended up being laid off and looking for new adventures. But now I am back and enjoying it muchly.

We are waiting to hear back by end of day today whether or not the potential buyers will accept the status documents and finally say "Yay or Nay" about buying our place. And this weekend we're looking at houses in Oakville and Toronto again.

Monty has been limpy for the past year, and we assumed it was due to his right knee operation's side effects/recovery - he had his cruciate ligaments replaced with plastic and metal because he'd blown out his knee. Well, it seems that perhaps his knee problems actually originated with the significant hip dysplasia most apparent in his left hip, and that he was favouring this side, and putting extra strain on his knee.

Over the past couple of months I have had him at the vet's, picking up NSAID anti-inflammatory medications and pain-relievers for him, and been carrying him out and in from his pee and poop and sniff trips outside the building. I have not taken him for walks at Cherry Beach etc... and this has been really disappointing for us all - Monty too I think, as he will stare longingly across the road, wanting to go the park.

So on Monday morning I am driving him to the vet's, and he is going to have an X-Ray done on his hip - fully sedated and all. Based on the vet's recommendation, and subsequently a surgeon's recommendation, Monty will have the caput of his left femur excised, and he will then be able to recover - at least that's what the vet told me yesterday.

In the normal anatomy of the hip joint, the femur is connected to the pelvis at the hip joint. The almost spherical end of the femur (the caput, or caput ossis femoris for those who dig anatomy) fits into the socket of the hip joint (the acetabulum), to form a smooth joint with a wide range of leg movement, and the force of movement and walking is buffered by the joint itself, a mold made partly of cartilage into which the caput neatly fits.

In a hip suffering from dysplasia, two things are commonly abnormal. First, the caput is not deeply and tightly held by the acetabulum. Instead of being a snug fit, it is a loose fit, or a partial fit. Secondly, the caput or acetabulum are not smooth and round, but are misshapen, causing abnormal wear and tear or friction within the joint as it moves.

The body reacts to this in several ways. First, the joint itself is continually repairing itself and laying down new cartilage. However cartilage repair is a relatively slow process (the most rapid bodily repairs are often in systems with a blood flow, which cartilage lacks).

So the joint may suffer degradation due to the abnormal wear and tear, or may not support the body weight as intended. The joint becomes inflamed and a cycle of cartilage damage, inflammation and pain commences. This is a self-fueling process, in that the more the joint becomes damaged, the less able it is to resist further damage. The inflammation causes further damage. The bones of the joint may also develop osteoarthritis, visible on an X-ray as small outcrops of bone, which further degrade the joint.

The underlying deformity of the joint may get worse over time, or may remain static. A dog may have good X-rays and yet be in pain, or may have very poor X-rays and apparently almost no problems. The hip condition is only one factor to determine the extent to which dysplasia is causing pain or affecting the quality of life. In mild to moderate dysplasia it is often the secondary effects of abnormal wear and tear or arthritis, rather than dysplasia itself, which is the direct causes of visible problems.

Monty's vet is currently recommending femoral head excision. In this operation the ball portion of the hip is removed. Because arthritis develops from the ball rubbing abnormally in the socket, removing 1/2 the hip joint, and thus the bone to bone contact, relieves the pain. Once the ball is removed, a piece of muscle or joint tissue is placed between the thigh bone (femora) and the socket. This causes scar tissue to form which in turn supports the leg.

Not sure when the surgery will happen, we'll have to schedule it for the best time, but out of it all, hopefully this will allow him to return to the playful, mobile beagle who liked to go camping...

Playing with Kibble.

Playing with Garfield.

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