Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis, or JPS surgery, is a common treatment option for dog hip dysplasia — a malformation of the hip socket that creates a loose joint. It’s important to correct the looseness in the hip joint as early as possible to prevent crippling lameness, painful bone spurs and the progressive loss of cartilage. If left untreated, arthritis can set in as early as seven months after the dog is born.
Why It Happens
The biggest single risk factor is hereditary. It boils down to genes. Granted, rapid weight gain can exacerbate hip dysplasia, which is most common among large-breed dogs, such as Labradors, Rottweilers, German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers. The first stage of hip dysplasia is looseness of the hip joints. If the joint is loose, the hip partially dislocates with each step the dog takes and the joint gradually becomes deformed. The socket becomes shallow and the head of the femur becomes flattened. Arthritis develops in the joint and causes pain. Occasionally only one hip has dysplasia, but more commonly both hips are affected.
Symptoms include a sudden aversion to exercise or an awkward gait of the hind limbs. You may notice your puppy or dog “bunny hopping” or experiencing stiffness on rising after a rest. Early intervention is key, before arthritis sets in and a total hip replacement is required.
Ideal Candidates for JPS
We recommend that large-breed dogs should be tested and X-rayed while they are still a puppy, just before the four month mark. The ideal age to perform JPS surgery is before five months of age.
How JPS Surgery Works
A small incision is made between the hind limbs to expose the pubic bone of the pelvis. This procedure cauterizes the growth plate of the publis to destroy the growing cells of this part of the pelvis. Consequently, JPS surgery alters the pelvic development with the ultimate result of the ball and socket fitting more “tightly,” therefore decreasing the potential amount of future hip arthritis. Because JPS relies on your puppy’s growth to work, it is not an option for dogs over four and a half months of age. JPS should not be thought of as a definitive cure for hip dysplasia, but can significantly improve hip joint conformation and lessen the long-term effects of hip arthritis. We recommend that if your puppy is having JPS surgery, to also have the spay or neuter surgery done at the same time the JPS is performed, to cut down the number of times your puppy is given anesthetic.
Our primary surgeon, Dr. Richardson, uses a large-screen TV to show explanatory videos and to show X-rays of your dog’s hip dysplasia. The videos, the X-rays and 3D models in the clinic effectively describe what the procedure entails and exactly how we’ll go about stabilizing the hip joint.
Benefits of JPS
JPS surgery is well tolerated, as well as less invasive, less costly and easier for recovery than more involved surgeries. We continue to see rapid recovery, restored joint stability and a return to regular agility. Over 90% of dogs experience no complications and require no long-term pain medication. Most dogs are able to comfortably bear weight soon after surgery, so these pets must be closely confined and supervised during the healing period.
We have a comprehensive program to educate pet owners in post-op care at home. Before discharging your pet, we make sure you have a thorough understanding of how to assist in your dog’s recovery.
Depending on your dog’s age, weight and the condition of its hip joint (malformation vs. trauma), our surgeon may consider other surgical options that improve the ball-and-socket connection in the hip joint, such as TPLO, TPO or FHO surgery. Having your dog examined at an early age is highly recommended because it opens up more surgical options for your pet, with different levels of invasiveness and at different costs.