NEW TREATMENT FOR CORNS
A corn is a hard circular area of thickened pad tissue that occurs in the toe pads of sight hounds and is found mainly in the pads of the central toes in the front limbs. It causes severe lameness especially when walking on hard uneven surfaces with the dog becoming reluctant to go for walks or play.
Corns are caused, as in humans, by repeated mechanical trauma or pressure on the pad. They are definitely not caused by a virus or by foreign body penetration. If that pressure is reduced the corn will grow out and disappear.
There are many different treatments that are advocated including ointments to soften, burn out or dissolve the corn; conservative management involving regular paring and protective foot ware, and surgery by either hulling or excising. Even if the corn has been completely removed it will recur in more than 50% of cases within a year because the mechanical pressure has not been addressed. This new treatment removes pressure on the pad by cutting the tendons under the toe (flexor tenotomy).
The surgery is simple and involves making a small incision less than a centimetre in length and the cutting the two flexor tendons. The incision requires two or three sutures. The corn is not pared or removed.
This causes the toe to flatten and the nail stick out. If the dog is lying on the side the toe will be elevated by about 30 degrees.
Recovery is rapid and by seven days post surgery most clients have reported a great improvement in lameness and demeanour. These dogs want to play and exercise! One racing greyhound with corns in both front feet returned to the track in 25 days.
At six to eight weeks the corn has usually fallen out and lameness disappeared.
Frequently asked questions:
1. What is the recovery period from the surgery?
The dressings are removed after 24 hours and it is recommended that there is lead exercise for a further 10 days and then free exercise. Lameness is dramatically reduced by day 2.
2. My dog has a corn on a central toe but the adjacent toe has been amputated. Is tenotomy a suitable procedure in this case?
No. The support of the adjacent toes is necessary to prevent or reduce the problem of the skin on the flattened toe becoming sore. A different procedure involving excising the corn and cutting only the superficial flexor tendon is giving good results.
3. By increasing the weight distribution onto the other pads is there a further risk of subsequent corn development?
Some dogs have a genetic tendency to develop multiple corns and at present there is no evidence to support this assumption. Possibly there is an increased risk of one developing in the same foot but there are not enough cases to determine this.
4. Will the corn grow back in the future?
This is highly unlikely.
5. Can more than one foot have the surgery in the same session?
Yes with no adverse effects on the patient. All four feet have had tenotomies in one session.
Results up to December 2019
73 dogs with 106 corns:
at initial presentation 28% had corns in more than one pad
Whippet = 13 Pet greyhound = 52 Racing greyhound = 4 Lurcher = 4
7 day follow up on 73 dogs:
• 1 was assessed as slightly improved
• 10 were assessed as moderately improved
• 62 were assessed as greatly improved
8 week follow up on 66 dogs:
• 12 dogs showed slight lameness
• 54 dogs showed no lameness
12 month follow up on 16 dogs
• In 10 dogs activity levels were greatly increased
• All dogs improved in demeanour
• All owners were greatly satisfied and would have the surgery again
• 13 dogs developed further corns 5 of which were in the same foot (see frequently asked questions)
Owner satisfaction: all very satisfied with the outcome. All reported that the dogs were much happier and willing to exercise normally.
• All corns had grown out
• Racing greyhounds and whippets (2) returned to successful racing.