The 2016 IEWG published a new x-ray protocol to help distinguish dogs with normal elbows from those with dysplasia.
Elbow dysplasia is a painful, inherited condition that is far more challenging for vets, owners and dogs to deal with than hip dysplasia. Yet littler progress has been made in reducing its prevalence since we started screening breeding stock about two decades ago. The International Elbow Working Group (IEWG) has tacked this issue and last summer they issues new screening guidelines and protocols. The details are below.
We can definitely improve on our present “elbow clearance,” since per a Michigan State University study, many dogs with normal elbows are diagnosed with Grade 1 elbow dysplasia and many dogs that actually have Grade 1 dysplasia are rated as normal. These errors causes breeders to lose faith in the clearance process, questioning the ratings their dogs get. It also means that we are removing some dogs from the breeding pool for no reason and we are breeding dogs that may pass elbow dysplasia on to their offspring (Kunst et al, 2014).
This new IEWG protocol increases the number of x-rays from one to between 2 and 5. The number and quality of the x-rays improve accuracy, as does the experience of the reviewer. More details to come but here is the new protocol for you to share with your veterinarian.
Hazewinkel, HAW, 2016, Mode of inheritance of Elbow Dysplasia and Principles of Screening Methods, and Ohlerth S, B Tellheml et al., 2016, Explanation of the IEWG grading system. Proceedings of the 30th annual meeting of the International Elbow Working Group