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Bicipital tendinitis and tenosynovitis in the dog: a study of 15 cases

Authors: Bruce WJ, Broome CJ, Bray JP, Burbidge HM
Publication: New Zealand Veterinary Journal, Volume 48, Issue 2, pp 44-52, Apr 2000
Publisher: Taylor and Francis

Animal type: Companion animal, Dog
Subject Terms: Diagnostic procedures, Joint/arthrology, Locomotor, Muscle/myology, Disease/defect, Tendon/ligament
Article class: Scientific Article
Abstract: AIM:  To describe the clinical, radiographic, and sonographic features of 15 dogs with bicipital tendinitis and tenosynovitis, classify them according to cause, and evaluate the long-term efficacy of treatment.
METHODS:  Dogs exhibiting forelimb lameness with pain localised to the biceps tendon were included in the study. Sonographic examination of the tendon and tendon sheath, and radiographic examination including positive contrast arthrograms of the shoulder joint were performed, and assessed for features consistent with biceps tendon disease. In some cases, synovial-fluid analysis and surgical investigation were also undertaken. The causes of the conditions were classified as either traumatic, mechanical, neoplastic or inflammatory. Dogs were treated conservatively with rest and anti-inflammatory drugs, or surgically by either transection of the transverse humeral ligament or tenodesis of the biceps tendon. Assessment of the effects of treatment was made by re-examination at six weeks and from information gained by telephone interview with the dog`s owner at longer-term follow-up.
RESULTS:  Bicipital tendinitis and tenosynovitis were common causes of forelimb lameness in active, middle-aged or older, medium to largebreed dogs. The most sensitive physical tests for localising pain to the biceps apparatus were shoulder flexion with the elbow extended, focal digital pressure applied directly to the biceps origin, and the biceps retraction test. Sonographic assessment was found to be more sensitive than shoulder radiography or arthrography for characterising the lesion. Conservative treatment of 11 traumatic cases resulted in good or excellent function at long-term follow-up. One mechanical bicipital tendinitis secondary to mineral deposits within the supraspinatus tendon improved following transection of the transverse humeral ligament and removal of the deposits. One of two cases of inflammatory tendinitis/ tenosynovitis improved following tenodesis. One dog with neoplastic disease did not improve and was euthanased.
CONCLUSIONS: The diagnosis of bicipital tendinitis and tenosynovitis requires a careful examination using a combination of physical tests. Of the ancillary tests, sonography was the most reliable, however information gained from all tests was useful in fully evaluating the biceps apparatus and shoulder joint. The classification system employed in this study was helpful in selecting a treatment protocol and determining the likely prognosis.
KEY WORDS: Dog, biceps, tendinitis, tenosynovitis, sonography, arthrography.
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