Lucy and Emma are both accredited to perform PennHIP screening x-rays in clinic. PennHIP is the gold standard for early screening of canine hips to assess the risk of developing osteoarthritis, or Hip Dysplasia, at a later age. The PennHIP method was developed at the University of Pennsylvania in the US and has had many studies performed that indicate its superiority over traditional methods. Unlike the traditional hip-extended views which can only be reliably interpreted after 1 year of age, PennHIP allows for assessment of hip laxity from as young as 16 weeks! This means earlier diagnosis, earlier intervention and a slower onset of clinical disease.
Hip Dysplasia is a genetic disease of a large proportion of canine breeds, with a strong environmental influence. Over time, the laxity in the hips leads to cartilage erosion and arthritis within the hip joint, which in turn gives your pet chronic pain, reduced mobility and a shorter life. The traditional method involving a hip-extended view can only be reliably performed in mature animals, which leaves a lot of dogs that could have had intervention performed in the juvenile phase left without all the options for treatment. This method also has a poorer correlation with Hip Dysplasia as it tightens the joint capsule and thus the hip into the socket, giving a falsely positive view of the laxity of the hip. It also relies more heavily on changes already evident in the joint to provide an assessment which means that early arthritic changes must be present in the hip to provide a score.
PennHIP assesses the laxity of the hips by using distraction, and measures this against a large database of dogs of the same breed to give a prediction of the risk of developing arthritis of the hips based on the high correlation of laxity to later development of arthritis, or Hip Dysplasia, and also gives an indication of whether your dog has better or worse hips than the breed average. If dogs are screened before skeletal maturity they can have interventional surgery performed that may not be an option when mature, or, if surgery is not indicated but risk is still high we can start on supportive programs that will help the joint maintain congruity and cartilage for as long as possible, thus extending the length, and quality of your dog’s life. This kind of intervention, when implemented early can stave off the clinical signs of arthritis for 3 years or more, meaning your dog gets 3 or more years of mobility and happy activity without pain, or medications to manage pain (which can have side effects when used long term). It also means breeders can safely assess the risk of Hip Dysplasia in their animals and move towards meaningfully improving the breed by removing high risk dogs from their breeding stock. This results in a better overall breed, and a better pet for you!
Because the PennHIP method requires either heavy sedation, or a general anaesthetic to perform, we recommend screening whilst under anaesthetic for desexing if your animals is destined to be a pet, and you would like to assess them for risk of Hip Dysplasia, or well before joining if the animal is to be bred (if bought as an adult). It is not recommended to perform PennHIP during pregnancy, or until 16 weeks after whelping due to the effects the pregnancy hormone relaxin can have on hip laxity.
Check out these links to an informative video and brochure on the Antech Imaging Services website: