Ask the vet: Correcting a bent leg in an English Mastiff
PUBLISHED: 14:09 25 January 2016 | UPDATED: 14:09 25 January 2016
Christchurch Referrals help a gentle giant with a growth problem
Even at the tender age of eight months, it was clear that Forrest, the amiable English Mastiff, was a gentle giant, already weighing an incredible 74kg. It was with some concern then that his owners, Magda and Marlon, had noted that his left hind leg had begun to deviate outwards. X-rays were taken at Christchurch Veterinary Referrals and these confirmed a defect in Forrest’s lower tibial growth plate, nearest his left ankle. The growth plates are areas of bone where cells divide and bones subsequently lengthen in both young people and animals. In Forrest’s case, part of this growth plate had closed prematurely, leading to uneven growth and an obviously bent leg.
Forrest was beyond the age where any manipulation of the growth plate could be used to straighten the leg. After some deliberation it was decided to see how he coped with his bent leg. Indeed, he coped very well for the first year, as Magda comments: “he never seemed bothered about the angle of his leg, the growth plate was damaged when he was young, so to him, his leg was normal.”
However, at two years of age Forrest clearly became uncomfortable with the use of his bent leg. It was at this point that we all knew that corrective surgery couldn’t be avoided. As a mature dog, Forrest now weighed a staggering 94kg, so this surgery would prove no mean feat.
A small wedge of bone was carefully cut from Forrest’s left tibia according to measurements taken from his X-rays. Both ends of his tibia either side of the removed wedge were then fixed together with two large plates, straightening the leg in two planes. Forrest’s leg healed uneventfully following surgery. Magda recalls: “After Forrest’s recovery period we began to see just how much his leg had been restricting him before the operation. He became more and more active as his confidence in his leg grew.” Magda and Marlon are thrilled with how well Forrest has done following his surgery. So too is everyone involved with his treatment at Christchurch Veterinary Referrals.