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Case Report: Olecranon Osteosarcoma in a Great Dane

A seven-year old male, neutered Great Dane presented with a five-week history of left thoracic limb lameness. 

fig. 1 - mediolateral radiograph of left elbow - reveals irregular bone loss within olecranon

fig. 2 - STIR MR-scan of elbow - high signal in region of olecranon reveals extent of tumour.

Examination revealed a firm, fixed, non-painful swelling medial to the left olecranon and resentment of flexion of the elbow.  Radiology (fig. 1) revealed irregular loss of bone within the olecranon. Thoracic films were unremarkable.  STIR-weighted MR-scans of the elbow revealed a focal area of bone inflammation consistent with neoplasia (figs. 2 & 3). 

Impression smears from needle aspirates of the swelling were consistent with osteosarcoma, and the owner elected not to pursue further treatment.

fig.3 - dorsal (craniocaudal) STIR MR-scans of the elbow

This case illustrates the exception to the rule that such tumours usually occur ‘near to the stifle’ (distal femoral/ proximal tibial epiphyses) and ‘away from the elbow’ (proximal humeral/ distal radial epiphyses).  It also illustrates the graphic appearance of metabolic bone changes on MR imaging.