Veterinary Services

Pet PennHIP Radiography

PennHIP x-rays have been used to assess hip laxity in dogs and to predict the onset of hip dysplasia. Learn more about PennHIP x-rays below.

PennHIP Radiographs in Hardin, MT

Canine hip dysplasia is the most commonly inherited orthopedic disease and can lead to hip arthritis, which is painful and has no medical or surgical cure. Thankfully, we now have a research-based hip screening procedure called PennHIP, which has been proven to be the most accurate method to measure hip laxity! This screening can be done for dogs as early as 16 weeks of age by a PennHIP-trained veterinarian (Dr. Uffelman!) by taking a series of three X-rays and using a custom distraction device. Early detection, prevention, and intervention of canine hip dysplasia are all critical to helping your pet maintain a high quality of life. Whether your dog is a family pet, a breeding dog, or a working dog, the PennHIP screening is an invaluable tool to understand and proactively manage their health and well-being.

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What is PennHIP Radiography?

PennHIP stands for Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program. It is a technique of radiographing animals’ hips developed at the University of Pennsylvania to determine the degree of laxity (how loose they are). It has been used for over 20 years to measure hip laxity and to help predict the possible development of hip dysplasia in dogs.

With early identification of dogs that are at risk, preventative measures can be taken to try and minimize the clinical effects and pain that your dog may experience. Early identification in breeding dogs will help choose which dogs are best to continue as part of a breeding program.

Frequently Asked Questions

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How is it different from regular hip extended x-rays?
Ventrodorsal (VD) Hip extended radiographs still have a place in Veterinary practice. Most breed societies still use this view as the standard for measuring hip laxity in dogs and giving a dog a score. The PennHIP technique still uses this view as one part of the exam. The other two views compress the hips into the acetabulum (hip socket), then measure the difference in a movement when the hips are distracted (pulled out from the socket).

This change in position is a more accurate way of measuring laxity in the joint compared to the traditional view, which can sometimes make hip joints appear tighter than they actually are.

The PennHIP procedure has strict quality control guidelines to ensure results are accurate. All veterinarians taking the radiographs need to be certified, and all radiographs must be assessed through one central location, eliminating the large variability obtained with scoring hips in the traditional manner.

What age can it be performed?
The PennHIP procedure may be performed at 16 weeks old onwards. Multiple studies have shown consistency of results as the animal ages, meaning predictions can be made from a much earlier age compared to the traditional view, which must be between 1-2 years old.
What happens to the dog during the PennHIP procedure?
It is critical to ensure that all the muscles surrounding the hips are relaxed so as we can obtain a true reading of how loose they are. To obtain this, a light general anesthesia is required.

The first view is the VD extended hip view, and the view is traditionally used to grade hip dysplasia. In this view, the legs are extended straight out behind the dog. The second view places the legs in a neutral position (a similar position to how the dog would stand, except with the legs pointing in the air), with the femoral heads pushed into the joint. The third view involves a similar stance with the femoral heads around the outside of a special device, which shows how far the femoral heads can move.

The procedure is not painful to the dog and will not “stretch” the joint or cause any damage. It has been performed on hundreds of thousands of patients and is completely safe.

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