Franklin Vets Blog

Pancarpal arthrodesis

June 28, 2017

Carpal hyperextension injury is a severely debilitating injury mainly seen in large, active breeds of dog. The carpus (wrist) is a complicated joint, actually 3 joints rolled into one. Dogs and cats need the joint to be supported with ligaments to enable them to stand upright as they do. If they sprain the joint down to ground, they will tear the supporting ligaments on the underside of the joint, and result in carpal hyperextension.


This injury almost always requires surgery to treat, especially in dogs. The goal of treatment is to fuse the joints of the carpus by removing the articular cartilage at each level, packing bone graft in place, then stabilising the whole joint by means of a long plate and screws.

This is a highly challenging and complicated procedure that takes skill to do right. Results can be very good, even in working dogs, with around 80% of dogs returning to work. There is no ability to bend at the carpus after surgery, so jumping down from a height can be uncomfortable after surgery and if possible should be avoided.

The leg will be supported in a cast for about 1 month after surgery.

Suitable candidates

Most dogs with this injury have got it from jumping down, and other injuries are not common but should be checked for.

Otherwise healthy dogs are good candidates for surgery.

Time involved in clinic

The patient will probably be kept in the clinic until the first dressing change at 2-3 days after surgery.

After care

Strict rest is essential for a long period of time while the joints fuse. This is likely to be around 10-12 weeks. For the first month the leg will be supported in a cast, which will need looking after as well. Regular revisits to the clinic are required to check progress.

Sometimes the plate and screws are removed at about a year after surgery, to reduce the risk of a fracture occurring in the metacarpal bone at the end of the foot.

How to book

Give reception a ring on 09 238 7486 to discuss transfer of your patient to our clinic for assessment and treatment. You may be asked to bring any clinical notes, x-rays images, and medications with you when you come.