Osteoarthritis x-rays – Is there anything in the ‘joint space’?

Hi everyone. Although we are primarily concerned with dog arthritis, I thought you might find this short video interesting. It is an interview with a human shoulder surgeon. A couple of highlights:

Firstly, there are some good illustration of what the inside of an osteoarthritic joint can look like. For more details I would watch video 6 in The Arthritis in Dogs Video Series where we talk about advanced tests such as arthroscopy and show you some pictures and video footage of the inside of a dog’s elbow joint.

Secondly, the x rays show the loss of the joint space that can occur in osteoarthritis. Normally there is a black space on an x ray between the joint surfaces. It isn’t an empty space, it is just that articular cartilage has what we call a low radio-opacity and appears light grey or black on an x ray. This is in contrast to bone which is radiodense and appears white on an x ray. As we discuss in video 5 ‘Diagnosing osteoarthritis‘ loss of joint space is commonly used in human medicine to detect loss or thinning of articular cartilage. This seems to be a much less reliable test in the dog and there is a great danger of over-interpretation. So, don’t be surprised when your veterinary surgeon doesn’t really talk about joint space narrowing on your dog’s x rays.

Finally, REMEMBER these guys are talking about osteoarthritis in people and so when they talk about anti-inflammatories they mention human drugs. NEVER give these to your dog. As we discuss in Video 8 on anti-inflammatories, the safety margin for many human drugs is much lower in dogs. Please don’t do it – it is potentially life-threatening. Use a veterinary licensed product such as Metacam, Rimadyl and Previcox that your vet has prrescribed.

However, it’s a concise and informative video that illustrate a couple of central features of osteoarthritis that are relevant to arthritis in dogs (ignore the short ad at the start!).

Bye for now.