BSAVA’s PetSavers funds pivotal arthritis research

11 October 2016

Vets are leading the way in “pivotal and transformative” arthritis research and treatment, thanks to funding from the BSAVA through its support of PetSavers.

To mark World Arthritis Day (October 12), the BSAVA is celebrating clinical research successes – and their effects on the profession – in projects backed by the Association’s charity PetSavers.

Ross Allan, the BSAVA’s Public Relations Officer, said PetSavers has played a key role in expanding the profession’s knowledge on common orthopaedic diseases which result in potentially debilitating osteoarthritis: elbow dysplasia and cruciate disease.

“One study by Gemmill was pivotal, transformative, a step change in the mindset of the profession, it’s about the best possible management of a condition,” he said.

“At this time Computed Topography (CT) scans were rarely used, so this study greatly expanded understanding of the causal factors in canine elbow dysplasia, showing that elbow joint incongruency was involved in the development of fragmented coronoid process disease in the dog.

“Since 2004, ready access to CT scans within the profession is far more commonplace with CT generally accepted as offering the opportunity for highly sensitive and non-invasive assessment of joint architecture, including congruency.”

Cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) failure in dogs is a major welfare issue and particularly affects medium-large breeds. The annual spend on treating this condition in dogs in the USA in 2003 was estimated at a staggering $1.32 billion.

Ross Allan added: “PetSavers’ grant funds have enabled important findings on the use of MRI in the diagnosis of both cranial cruciate and meniscal injuries in dogs (Barrett et al, 2009)[i].

“While ready access to MRI has yet to catch up with CT, as technology progresses this is likely to become increasingly common for early diagnosis of this condition, with the aim or slowing or indeed preventing osteoarthritis occurring.”

Over the past 20 years, PetSavers has funded a range of studies on many diseases commonly affecting pets, which sought to improve the veterinary profession’s ability to diagnose and treat, with this knowledge in turn able to aid human health studies.

It is almost 60 years since the British Small Animal Veterinary Association was formed and Ross Allan said the profession was showing no sign of slowing down in pursuit of scientific excellence, pioneering research and increasingly complex education – aided by PetSavers-funded work of committed veterinarians.

“The impact of all clinical research is difficult to gauge at the time of grant funding, but PetSavers, which is generously funded by donations, should be rightly proud of the impact its research has made,” he said.

“It is an exciting time of change and challenge and I look forward to future researchers standing proudly on the shoulders of giants, with further advances continuing to change the shape of the small animal veterinary profession in years to come.”

[i] Barrett, E., Barr, F., Owen, M. and Bradley, K. (2009). A retrospective study of the MRI findings in 18 dogs with stifle injuries. Journal of Small Animal Practice, 50: 448–455.