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Dr. Larson
Dr. Larson, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 1557
Experience:  9 years clinical experience. Own and operate a mixed animal practice.
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My dog has a swollen ankle joint area which my vet said is

Customer Question

My dog has a swollen ankle joint area which my vet said is due to a tear in the joint capsule causing fluid to leak and swelling in the lower foot area; She had surgery in 9/09 to remove a small mass about the the size of a small marble from the area and repair the joint capsule tear; now it's december and my vet tell me there is still a tear there which is still causing the leaking of fluid/swelling; today my vet drew fluid from the swollen area which was clear, very thick and sticky; he said it was regular joint fluid which had leaked from the tear; the area went flat after he drained it and I'd say in about 1 hr it was back to the size it was before the draw, but no bigger; the fluid he drew out of the area was clear; kinda like plasma consistency; no sign of pus or infection; the area is not hot; she does not act as if it bothers her; she still plays, runs, etc; she is a 14 year old XXXXX XXXXX Terrier and it hasn't slown her down a bit; my vet said to either give it more time to heal (a couple months) or go in and further try to "tie up" (as he put it) and repair the tear; the first surgery cost me $300 now I'm facing another $220; does this sound like something that can happen after surgery; is it that hard to completely close off a tear of this nature; is it normal to have to repeat surgery; is it ok to wait for a few more months; do you think it can really repair itself; should it have been completely sutured and healed with one surgery or is it common to have to go back in like this?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Larson replied 7 years ago.
It is not unusual to have to repeat a surgery of this type. Joint capsules can be very difficult to fully close after there has been a tear. The joint capsule is difficult to get a good visual inspection of. From the sound of the fluids you are describing, your vet is pulling synovial fluid from the area, which is joint fluid. There is a possibility that this injury can heal itself if given enough time, but there is no guarantee. However, waiting on the surgery to see if it will heal on its own should cause no real problems.

I hope this has helped in making your decision.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Can the joint fluid which is building up cause any damage to the tissue or bones in the ankle area if I give it longer to heal? And what are the percentages of these tears that will heal on their own -- like greater than 50/50 or less than 50/50 chance it can heal over on its own? Since he drew the fluid this morning the tiny hole where he drew the fluid out keeps dripping out some fluid -- should I put like a bandage or bandaid on it? Have attached two photos of it for your opinion? Thanks for your help!graphicgraphic
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Anymore info or response to my reply would be appreciated. Thanks.
Expert:  Dr. Larson replied 7 years ago.
The build up of fluid will not cause any damage to the surrounding tissue or bone. From the appearance of the area, I have little doubt this is synovial fluid. If you want to place a bandage over the needle hole that would be fine, it's normal for fluid to continue to seep for a while a draining it in this way. As far as the percentages go, I don't have concrete numbers to pass on, but I'd say a little better then 50% chance it will heal on its own. This is simply going by what I've seen.

I hope I've answered your questions. I'm sorry it took so long to get back to you.
Dr. Larson and 3 other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Thanks so much for your help. Makes me feel a lot better. I believe I'll try to let it heal on its own for a few months and then if no better after the first of year opt for another surgery. Maggie doesn't seem to mind and shows no signs of any pain, etc. Thanks again for your help.
Expert:  Dr. Larson replied 7 years ago.
Your welcome, I hope all turns out well.