The value of routine radiographic follow up in the postoperative management of canine medial patellar luxation

Charlie Brincin et al.
Vet Surg. 2023 Apr;52(3):379-387. doi: 10.1111/vsu.13933.

Objective: To determine the influence of radiographic examination on the recommendations made at the time of planned re-evaluation of dogs after medial patellar luxation (MPL) surgery.

Study design: Retrospective multi-institutional case series.

Animals: Client-owned dogs (N = 825) that underwent MPL surgery.

Methods: Records of 10 referral institutions were searched for dogs that had been treated surgically for unilateral MPL and underwent a planned follow-up visit, including radiographs. The frequency of, and reasons for, changes in further recovery recommendations were investigated.

Results: Follow up was performed at a median of 6 (range, 4-20) weeks postoperatively. Isolated radiographic abnormalities were identified in 3.3% (27/825) of dogs following MPL surgery and led to a change in recommendations in 3% (13/432) of dogs that were presented without owner or clinician concerns. Lameness, administration of analgesia at follow up, and history of unplanned visits prior to routine re-examination were associated with a change in postoperative plan (P < .001). In the absence of owner and clinician concerns, the odds of having a change in convalescence plans were not different, whether or not isolated radiographic abnormalities were present (P = .641).

Conclusion: Routine radiographs at follow up did not influence postoperative management of most dogs after MPL surgery in the absence of abnormalities on clinical history or orthopedic examination.

Clinical significance: Dogs that were presented for routine follow up after unilateral MPL surgery without owner concerns, lameness, analgesic treatment or a history of unplanned visits, and for which examination by a surgical specialist was unremarkable, were unlikely to benefit from radiographs.