Nonerosive immune-mediated polyarthritis is an immune-mediated inflammatory disease of the diarthroidal joints (movable joints: shoulder, knee, etc.), which occurs in multiple joints, and in which the cartilage of the joint (articular cartilage) is not eroded away. A type III hypersensitivity reaction, which causes antibodies to be bound to an antigen, in this case joint tissue, causes this condition.
These antibody-antigen complexes are called immune complexes, and they are deposited within the synovial membrane (where the fluid that lubricates the joints is held). There, the immune complexes trigger an abnormal immune response to the joint cartilage. What this means is that, in effect, the body is fighting against itself. This leads to an inflammatory response, and complement protein activation by the tissue surrounding the cartilage, in response to the immunity displaying cells, leading to the clinical signs of arthritis.
You will need to give your veterinarian a thorough history of your dog's health leading up to the onset of symptoms. Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam on your dog, taking note of signs of pain, decreased range of motion, and any lameness. A complete blood profile will be conducted, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, a urinalysis, and an electrolyte panel. In dogs suspected to have lupus erythematosus, a lupus erythematosus preparation or an antinuclear antibody test can be performed. Joint fluid aspirate will be taken for lab analysis, and submitted for bacterial culture and sensitivity. A biopsy (tissue sample) of synovial tissue will also help to make a definitive diagnosis.
X-ray images can also be used as a diagnostic tool. If a nonerosive, immune-mediated polyarthritis condition is present, it will be visible on the radiograph image.
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