What is a Luxating Patella? (LP)

This is a condition that plagues many toy breeds.  While there is a higher
incidence of LP in other breeds, many yorkies are still affected by this condition
whether through genetics or injury!  It is important to make sure your yorkie
has a safe and easy way to get on and off of things such as furniture. We use
and highly recommend pet steps for couches and beds.

There are two types of patellar luxation medial and lateral.  Medial luxation
usually occurs in younger dogs and affects both knees and may have a genetic
component.  Usually this is due to incorrect conformation of the rear legs and
indicated by a "bowed" appearance.  

Lateral luxation has no known genetic tendency, therefore is usually associated
with trauma or injury and often only affects one knee.  Although with lateral LP
there is a risk of injuring the other knee as well, especially after one is
compromised.

It is important to know that puppy knees have the tendency to be slightly loose
and most tighten as they continue to grow!  LP occurs at a higher rate among
smaller yorkies.  Another reason we strive to produce yorkies that are over 4
lbs and free of LP.  

There are four grades of Luxating Patellas:
Here are the classifications taken from the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA)

Grade 1

Manually the patella easily luxates at full extension of the stifle joint, but returns
to the trochlea when released. No crepitation is apparent. The medial, or very
occasionally, lateral deviation of the tibial crest (with lateral luxation of the
patella) is only minimal, and there is very slight rotation of the tibia. Flexion and
extension of the stifle is in a straight line with no abduction of the hock.

Grade 2

There is frequent patellar luxation, which, in some cases, becomes more or less
permanent. The limb is sometimes carried, although weight bearing routinely
occurs with the stifle remaining slightly flexed. Especially under anesthesia it is
often possible to reduce the luxation by manually turning the tibia laterally, but
the patella reluxates with ease when manual tension of the joint is released. As
much as 30 degrees of medial tibial torsion and a slight medial deviation of the
tibial crest may exist. When the patella is resting medially the hock is slightly
abducted. If the condition is bilateral, more weight is thrown onto the forelimbs.

Many dogs with this grade live with the condition reasonably well for many
years, but the constant luxation of the patella over the medial trochlear ridge of
the trochlea causes erosion of the articulating surface of the patella and also the
proximal area of the medial lip. This results in crepitation becoming apparent
when the patella is luxated manually.

Grade 3

The patella is permanently luxated with torsion of the tibia and deviation of the
tibial crest of between 30 degrees and 50 degrees from the cranial/caudal plane.
Although the luxation is not intermittent, many animals use the limb with the
stifle held in a semi flexed position. The trochlea is very shallow or even
flattened.

Grade 4

The tibia is medially twisted and the tibial crest may show further deviation
medially with the result that it lies 50 degrees to 90 degrees from the
cranial/caudal plane. The patella is permanently luxated. The patella lies just
above the medial condyle and a space can be palpated between the patellar
ligament and the distal end of the femur. The trochlea is absent or even convex.
The limb is carried, or the animal moves in a crouched position, with the limb
flexed.

Please check out this great site about Luxating Patellas to learn more and about
your treatment options!  Please always have an orthopedic consult prior to
having the corrective surgery done.  There are too many cases where minimal
treatment is not tried first!

Luxating Patellas are diagnosed by palpation of the joint by a veterinarian, an
exam is all that is needed for OFA certification.
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