OBJECTIVE: To describe medial humeral epicondylitis in cats based on radiographic, anatomic, and histologic observations.
STUDY DESIGN: Prospective cohort study.
ANIMALS: Feline cadavers (n = 60).
METHODS: Extended craniocaudal, and extended and flexed mediolateral radiographic projections were taken of both elbows of 60 consecutive European shorthair cats that died or were euthanatized. Elbows with new bone formation at the medial epicondyle were dissected and embedded in methyl-methacrylate (MMA). For comparison, both elbows of a cat with no radiographic changes were prepared in a similar manner. Sections of the MMA blocks were Giemsa stained and examined with light microscopy.
RESULTS: Bilateral new bone formation was identified radiographically at the medial aspect of the humeral epicondyle in 6 cats (10%). All of these cats had mineral deposition in the humeral head of the flexor carpi ulnaris muscle. Other findings were cartilage damage (n = 3 cats), an additional loose medial joint body (1), and tendinosis (3). The ulnar nerve was flattened and displaced caudally, and signs of chronic epineural fibrosis were present in 2 severely affected cats.
CONCLUSIONS: Ten percent of this feline population had radiographic evidence of medial humeral epicondylitis with chronic degeneration, mineralization, and metaplastic bone formation in damaged fibrillar matrix involving the origin of the humeral head of the flexor carpi ulnaris muscle. New bone formation caused displacement and compression of the ulnar nerve in severely affected elbows. Based on our findings, medial humeral epicondylitis appears to be a common disorder in cats with potential clinical sequelae.