Stephanie Burgis
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We took Maya in to see the orthopedic specialist today. He was very, very good with her - in fact, since there was no examining room in his office, we're pretty sure she never even realized that she was seeing a vet - she just thought we'd brought her along on a social visit! She licked his hands, enjoyed getting lots of petting and attention from him, and coped with her usual stoicism when he moved around her left front leg to test the bad shoulder there.

Basically, he said her shoulder is VERY bad - almost nonfunctional - because of all the new bone that grew around the fracture there. (We assume she must have been hit by a car sometime before she ended up in Border Collie Trust). He thinks it's definitely causing her pain on a regular basis - cartilege grating against bone every time she moves the leg. He said if she were a human, they'd automatically do a shoulder replacement, but unfortunately those aren't available yet for dogs. (Hip replacements, yes; elbow replacements, yes; shoulders, not yet.) The one thing that might fix it and permanently take away the pain would be a shoulder fusion - the cartilege would all be removed, and the whole joint would be fused, leaving her with a strange gait but pain-free, and with no need for any future surgeries - this would be a one-time trauma with lifelong benefits. On the other hand, that would be major, invasive surgery with all the normal risks.

He hasn't made up his mind yet, but tomorrow he's going to put her under, take more X-rays, and do some serious assessment of the joint while she's unconscious and can't feel pain from the tests. He offered to let us leave her there overnight beforehand so we wouldn't have to drive her back in in the morning; we said no, we were happy to make the drive one extra time so that she can spend the night with us.

Bah. I was really hoping there would be an easy, straightforward answer. Hopefully, we'll know more after tomorrow's X-rays and tests. (And things could be an awful lot worse; he said it's quite possible, with her kind of bad shoulder, that there could be a cancerous tumor hiding inside, but he's pretty sure that isn't the case for her because of various other factors. Just hearing the bare possibility of that option made me feel very grateful that her troubles are so minor by comparison!)

Anyway, I'm still feeling nervous, and doing lots of googling for shoulder fusion for dogs, without much success...apparently this is a really rare kind of surgery, so there's not a lot of information on the web.

So, still nail-biting...

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