College of Veterinary Medicine

Research in Veterinary Clinical Sciences

Using radiation therapy to treat arthritis pain


"Use of low dose radiation for the treatment of pain associated with chronic arthritis in the canine elbow"


Purpose of Study

The purpose of this study is to determine whether low dose radiation therapy can be used to reduce arthritis pain in dogs.  Over 20% of dogs suffer from arthritis, and while many surgical and pharmaceutical options are available, some dogs still live with chronic pain that decreases their quality of life.  In Europe, radiation therapy has been used to treat arthritis in humans for over 70 years and has been intermittently used on arthritic dogs.  It is not known exactly how radiation benefits patients with arthritis, but experimental studies have shown that radiation decreases joint inflammation.   

Benefits

If low dose radiation therapy proves to be successful, enrolled dogs will have reduced pain due to arthritis, and will have helped in the development of a new treatment for canine arthritis that could improve the quality of life for other dogs.  Dogs who participate will receive a free examination from a veterinary surgeon.  Radiation therapy treatments and any necessary lab work (blood work, urinalysis) will be covered by the study (approximate value = $800).

Enrollment Requirements

Dogs who qualify for this study must be diagnosed with arthritis in one or both elbows, have a noticeable gait abnormality due to that arthritis, and have minimal problems in other joints.  They must be more than four years of age and deemed healthy enough to undergo anesthesia.  Dogs must be willing to take part in gait analysis through force plate examinations (where the dog is walked back and forth over a metal plate that is level with the floor).  Dogs who are receiving other types of therapies will not be excluded, but they will need to either continue those therapies throughout the study or discontinue them one week prior to starting the study. 

Treatment Methods

Dogs enrolled in the study will receive an orthopedic examination to ensure they have elbow arthritis.  They will then receive elbow radiographs (x-rays) and blood and urine will be collected.  After completion of the exam, participating dogs will be walked across a force plate to measure their limp.  Dogs will then undergo anesthesia and receive radiation treatment to the affected elbow(s).  Participating dogs will return to the WSU-VTH twice within five days of the initial treatment to repeat the force plate walk and radiation treatment.  At both three and six weeks after initial treatment, the dog will need to return for force plating to determine whether the treatment improved their gait.

Owner Responsibilities

Owners are financially responsible for costs involved in the diagnosis of their dog’s elbow arthritis.  Once enrolled, dogs must receive treatments on a set schedule and owners will be responsible for bringing their dog to the WSU-VTH for 3 treatments during a 6 day period and then again for 3 week and 6 week post-treatment checkups.  Owners will also be responsible for filling out a “Canine Brief Pain Score” questionnaire to evaluate their dog’s lameness prior to starting therapy and each time the dog returns for treatments and/or checkups.

Contact Information

For more information please contact Valorie Wiss, Clinical Studies Coordinator. 

(Office: 509-335-0798, Cell: 509-432-5345 or vwiss@vetmed.wsu.edu)

Last Edited: Apr 16, 2014 3:46 PM


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