OK, we’re home, so here’s the long story.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t bring home the x-ray this time, so you’ll have to imagine in your mind what this looks like. Just as a reminder, she had six major pelvic fractures and her left hip was partially dislocated.
The bad first: Because the fractures were so bad and the bones were separated from one another, none of the fractures has healed in a way that you’d consider perfect. The pelvic spines (the slimmer non-weight-bearing bones) are still completely broken off from their associated structures. The rest of the fractures are actually BIGGER now, much more visible, which (I think) means that her body is building little bridges and webs of bone across the gaps and in so doing pushed the bones further apart. The result is a VERY funky-looking x-ray with a clear line where half the pelvis broke away from the other half.
The most mechanically dangerous fracture was the one right next to the left hip socket. That one was directly weight-bearing and it would have moved or grated every time she took a step. And, as expected, that fracture shows the biggest change. The entire area has remodeled, with new bone being thrown all over the place in an attempt to stabilize the joint. The result is that the area directly below that socket is about three times thicker than the opposite hip’s. Instead of being a slim, mostly transparent bone, it’s a thick and nobbly and white-edged bone.
The good (and it’s very good): The separation of the right wing of the pelvis from the main body, which was more of a dislocation than a fracture, is closing up. Despite the extensive remodeling, the left hip has not moved further out of the socket. It remains somewhat dislocated, but there’s still 50% coverage of the femoral head (half of it is in the socket). Her other hip looks really good, with maybe 60-80% coverage. There is not an appreciable amount of arthritis in the direct femur-pelvis contact (though there almost certainly will be as she ages).
All the major weight-bearing fractures show good stabilization. She is definitely pain-free and was able to stretch her legs way out for the x-ray without sedation and without complaining (her tail is way out of focus because she was trying to wag furiously and kiss the techs as they were stretching her–when she was done she kept trying to run back in the x-ray room and make them do it again). Her pelvis should be functional for a long time.
The verdict: I’ve always said that I would not breed her if a c-section would be required, because I didn’t want to put the weight of a pregnancy on an unstable or painful hip. So my goal was that there would be a relatively normal-looking pelvic space.
What we see is not a normal pelvis, but the vet feels very confident that it’s a stable and pain-free pelvis. However, she doesn’t think Clue should give birth normally because of that huge thickening near the hip. During the birth process the hips will not be able to move apart and let the puppies through.
So a lot of what we did was talk about exactly what would be involved in a c-section, and whether it would be a good idea to go for it. My vet is the breeder and repro vet in our area, so she does hundreds of c-sections and inseminations. Her team has scheduled sections down to a fine art–they get the bitch down and they’re pulling puppies out within two or three minutes, so the puppies come out screaming. They get the bitches back up just as fast and they’re very experienced at reviving puppies.
So… with considerable trepidation, we’re going to go for it. I now get to obsess over her during this heat cycle and watch for pyo, but assuming that all goes well she will probably be back in heat in October. If Betty Ann is OK with it, we’ll send her out and have a rendezvous with one of her black and white boys, with the only tricky bit being that we need to do a reasonably good job of pinpointing ovulation so we can schedule the section properly.
And that means I have to find a CERF clinic around here so she can get certified. I’m pretty positive she’s PRA line-cleared but I’ll re-do the pedigree search to make absolutely sure. I could practically draw her hips from memory at this point, and they’ve been seen by multiple vets who think they’re great, so we’re OK there. It’s not like I could PennHIP them anyway, after the injury. I’m going to DM test her but I’m very serious about the fact that the result won’t change how I breed her. It’s for my own personal records. And in her case with these injuries if she ends up going down in the rear I’d be blaming about sixteen things before I blamed DM.
By the way, so far her spine looks good. No visible calcification yet, though of course we only saw from the loin to the tail. We’ll be continuing to monitor it every few years so we’re ready to make decisions if discs start to look wonky. I’d rather cut it off at the pass and pay for Adequan every month than ignore it and pay for disc surgery when she’s five or eight.
The vet felt that her constant shedding was still her body working through the stress of the injury. She doesn’t want to do a thyroid panel unless there’s no recovery over several months. Since Clue is thin and VERY energetic, she doesn’t see anything that worries her.
It was really good for me to see just how much the pelvis is still pretzeled. Clue is so happy that I expected to see, if not perfection, at least a pretty normal-looking set of bones. Not so. So it’s a good kick in the pants for me to get her on Glyco-Flex or another good supplement now, with the idea that she’ll stay on it forever, and I’ll be very quick to get Adequan going if I see even a little more stiffness.
In the end, the overall picture is one of optimism that she’ll live a long and happy life as long as she’s properly supported, which (as you all know) is a dream come true after her loss and her injury. The possibility of getting a litter from her (which is as far as I’m thinking – any further decisions won’t even be considered until she gets through a pregnancy and whelping well) is a huge bonus. So now, cautiously, we go onward and upward :).