Hip Dysplasia in Puppies – Juvenile Pelvis Symphysiodesis (JPS)

Hip Dysplasia in Puppies – Juvenile Pelvis Symphysiodesis (JPS)

We are now recommending radiographs and palpation of all susceptible breeds of puppies at three and a half to four months of age. The reason to check puppies so young is so we can do a surgery called juvenile pelvic symphysiodesis (JPS) if the puppy is affected. JPS can easily improve hip conformation in affected puppies, to prevent lifelong arthritis and pain.

The puppies need heavy sedation or anaesthesia for the radiographs and palpation. If desexing is required this can be done at the same time to decrease the cost and the need for another anaesthetic.

Hip Dyplasia is a laxity in the hips causing the ball to be loose in the socket during weight bearing. The excess movement causes rapid wear and tear leading to pain and early onset of arthritis.

Radiographs, even at a young age can now predict accurately which puppies will go on to have problems. Figures tell us this is about 30% of German Shepherds, 20% of Golden Retrievers and Rottweillers and 15% of Labradors. If the diagnosis is made at a young age the pup can have a small surgery (JPS) that can significantly improve the shape of the hip. Radiographs must be done under sedation or anaesthesia and entail a distraction view, where the hips are gently pulled away from the sockets to demonstrate the degree of laxity. A “Distraction Index” can be calculated which gives a reliable prediction of future hip problems.

In animals to be considered for breeding the hip radiographs must be done by a certified “Penn Hip” radiologist such as our specialist Dr Graeme Allan.


JPS relies on potential growth to work – hence is not applicable to dogs over four and a half months of age. The surgery entails applying electrocautery to the pubic symphysis growth area which stops the area growing. As the rest of the pelvis grows this leads to a change in the angle of orientation of the acetabulums (sockets) giving better stability in the hips.


Several studies have now proved the effectiveness of JPS – the main problem in applying the surgery is diagnosing the puppies at the young enough. If hip dysplasia is not diagnosed when young the dogs will begin so show symptoms from about 6 months of age. By this time it is too late to treat with JPS and a much more complicated although still useful surgery called a Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (TPO) can be performed. In adult dogs with hip dysplasia we can often manage the arthritis and pain medically and if this is inadequate a Total Hip Replacement (THR) can be done. If you would like to have your puppy evaluated please make an appointment to see one of the surgeons Dr John Culvenor or Dr Craig Bailey.




North Shore Veterinary Hospital now offers laparoscopic desexing for female dogs. Laparoscopy, or minimally invasive surgery, entails doing the procedure through small incisions using a telescope instead of a large incision. This decreases the size of the wound, the manipulation involved and hence leads to a more comfortable recovery. Laparoscopic surgery is now the norm in human surgery to minimise pain and speed recovery.

We recommend this for female dogs under 1 year of age with a body weight of over 8 kg. In the smaller dogs there is little advantage in the minimally invasive surgery as the incisions using normal surgery are very small anyway.

We now have a “Ligasure”, a special electrocautery device, to ensure safe sealing of the blood vessels to the ovaries. This greatly increases the speed and safety of the procedure.

In large breed dogs such as Great Danes and Rottweillers, gastropexy can be performed during the same procedure with little extra discomfort.

The equipment needed for laparoscopy is very expensive and at present we are charging 50% above the normal cost of desexing for this procedure. Please call the hospital and ask to speak to one of the surgeons about laparoscopic desexing if you are interested in it for your pet.


Laparoscopic surgery, while not faster, means much less trauma and pain. Rather than a 100 to 150 mm incision, we can do the surgery with scopes via 2 5 to 10 mm incisions. Smaller incisions and less traction during surgery will lead to less post-operative pain and quicker recovery. Laparscopic, or minimally invasive surgery, is now commonplace in human surgery.

Laparoscopy involves inflating the abdomen with carbon dioxide to create working space then inserting a portal to enable passing a telescope connected to a television to examine the abdominal contents. Another portal is created to pass in the instruments etc. Laparoscopic or minimally invasive surgery is very commonly used in human surgery for many abdominal procedures such as gall bladder removal.

Laparoscopy can also be used in other procedures such as cystotomy (opening the bladder) for bladder stone removal, crytorchid (retained) testicle removal and biopsy of the liver and other internal organs.

Similar techniques can now also be used for chest surgery to greatly decrease the pain and risk involved.