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Immune-mediated Arthritis in Dogs and Cats

By

Joseph Harari

, MS, DVM, DACVS, Veterinary Surgical Specialists, Spokane, WA

Last full review/revision Nov 2020 | Content last modified Jan 2021

Inflammatory polyarthritis secondary to deposition of immune complexes can produce erosive (destruction of articular cartilage and subchondral bone) or nonerosive (periarticular inflammation) joint disease. Rheumatoid arthritis, Greyhound polyarthritis, and feline progressive polyarthritis are examples of erosive arthritides. Systemic lupus erythematosus is the most common cause of nonerosive arthritis.

Clinical signs are lameness, multiple joint pain, joint swelling, fever, malaise, and anorexia. Clinical signs commonly wax and wane.

Diagnosis is aided by radiography, biopsy, arthrocentesis, and serologic testing. Radiography Diagnostic Imaging of Animals Radiography (generation of transmission planar images) is one of the most commonly used diagnostic tools in veterinary practice even though other imaging modalities such as ultrasonography,... read more Diagnostic Imaging of Animals reveals periarticular swelling, effusion, and joint collapse plus subchondral bone destruction in erosive conditions. Joint fluid analysis will reveal elevated cell counts exceeding 3,000/mcL, composed primarily of normal polymorphonuclear cells. Biopsy of synovial tissue reveals mild to severe inflammation and cellular infiltrates. Serologic testing is performed for rheumatoid factor and antinuclear antibodies.

Treatment involves anti-inflammatory medications (eg, corticosteroids Corticosteroids Two classes of steroid hormones, mineralocorticoids and glucocorticoids, are naturally synthesized in the adrenal cortex from cholesterol. (Also see The Adrenal Glands.) Mineralocorticoids ... read more ) and chemotherapeutic agents (eg, cyclophosphamide, azathioprine, or methotrexate). Prognosis is guarded because of relapses and inability to determine the inciting cause of the autoimmune reactions.

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Musculoskeletal Disorders in Large Animals
A seven-year-old Quarter horse gelding presents with a 1-week history of mild lameness. During the examination, the horse raises his head as he places weight on his left forelimb and drops it when placing weight on the right forelimb. Which limb is most likely affected in this horse?
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