Explanation of Elbow Grades
For elbow dysplasia evaluations for dogs, there are no grades for a radiographically normal elbow. The only grades involved are for abnormal elbows with radiographic changes associated with secondary degenerative joint disease. Like the hip certification, the OFA will not certify a normal elbow until the dog is 2 years of age. The OFA also accepts preliminary elbow radiographs. To date, there are no long-term studies for preliminary elbow examinations like there are for hips; however, preliminary screening for elbows along with hips can also provide valuable information to the breeder.
Grade I Elbow Dysplasia: Minimal bone change along anconeal process of ulna (less than 2mm).
Grade II Elbow Dysplasia: Additional bone proliferation along anconeal process (2-5 mm) and subchondral bone changes (trochlear notch sclerosis).
Grade III Elbow Dysplasia: Well developed degenerative joint disease with bone proliferation along anconeal process being greater than 5 mm.
Radiographic Elbow Views
The International Elbow Working Group (IEWG), a consortium of experts from around the world was founded in 1989 to lower the incidence of elbow dysplasia by coordinating worldwide efforts. The diagnosis of elbow dysplasia is based on the presence of degenerative joint disease/osteoarthritis which results from an ununited anconeal process, osteochondrosis or a fragmented medial coronoid process. The OFA started its elbow database in 1990 using a modified protocol of the IEWG. For cost effectiveness and mass screening, the OFA requires the extreme flexed medial to lateral view (Fig 1) of each elbow. Inclusion of additional views such as the neutral medial to lateral (Fig 2), cranial caudal (Fig 3) or preferably the cranial caudal 10-15 degree lateral to medial oblique (Fig 4) can also be submitted and will be evaluated.
In instances where the owner is requesting a re-evaluation of the elbows or if the dog is experiencing lameness it is recommended that the cranial caudal 10 to 15 degree lateral to medial oblique view accompany the required extreme flexed medial-lateral view.