Animal health

Although COPLA® is designed for human use, it also offers a solution for dogs and horses
which suffer from cartilage-tissue related health problems.

How COPLA® Joint Surgery helped Saara

Hovawart puppy Saara was only a few months old when her owner noticed something was not right in the way she was moving. Saara did not want to trot and the movement of her hind legs resembled bouncing, rather than a normal gait. X-ray imaging revealed severe OCD, a cartilage developmental disorder, in both of her hind legs.

Tissue changes in Saara’s knees were extensive. In a situation like this, the prognosis for cartilage self-repair is poor. OCD is a common predisposing factor for osteoarthritis. If left untreated, the severe OCD damages would most likely had led to Saara’s euthanasia in a few years' time.

At seven months old Saara had an operation in which COPLA® was installed in the knee cartilage lesions. The COPLA® is developed to treat various joint surface damages, including large cartilage defects such as in Saara’s case. Saara recovered well from the operation and is now living a full dog’s life, exercising and playing around.

Saara got well extremely quickly and her gait was normal right after the surgery. Saara is an agile and sporty dog, and now we can confidently expect to have many more years together.” Saara’s owners say.

Photo: Jenni/KuvaMatti

Limping always stands for pain

The underlying reason for limping should always be determined, as limping is always a sign of pain in an animal. Limping is often the result of joint problems, such as cartilage damage. Cartilage can get damaged due to a cartilage developmental disorder, i.e. osteochondrosis (OCD), or trauma, for example by a hard impact to the joint. Animals show pain very individually and one cannot deduce the reason behind it just by the nature or duration of limping.

Osteochondrosis (OCD), a.k.a. loose body in joint

OCD, i.e. osteochondrosis (osteochondritis dissecans), is a cartilage developmental disorder where subchondral ossification is disturbed. This leads to subchondral necrosis and consequential cartilage damage where a cartilage flap may partially or completely detach, i.e. a loose body can be formed. Typically, OCD becomes apparent during a rapid growth period, namely the first year in the life of an animal. OCD can be found in almost any joint and it can affect multiple joints simultaneously. The conventional treatment for OCD is surgical removal of the loose body and the cleaning of the lesion to healthy bone. As a result of the cleaning, a blood clot is formed into the lesion site, followed by scar cartilage formation. Fibrous scar cartilage is, however, mechanically weak and thus OCD can lead to osteoarthritis despite the conventional cleaning operation.

Study of surgical treatment of shoulder OCD in dogs using the COPLA® is ongoing at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital of University of Helsinki. In the study, the benefit of using the COPLA® in cartilage repair surgery is compared with the conventional cleaning procedure. More information of the study can be found here.

Traumatic cartilage injury

Cartilage can also get damaged when it is momentarily subjected to excessive load or torsion, for example due to a sports accident. Traumatic cartilage injury seldom appears alone, but is frequently accompanied by other injuries to the joint, such as ligament tears, which need to be treated as well. Also traumatic cartilage injuries are predisposing factors for osteoarthritis.


Most joint problems in animals are due to osteoarthritis. Cartilage defects are contributing factors to osteoarthritic changes in joints. An untreated cartilage defect will inevitably lead to osteoarthritic changes. An osteoarthritic joint is very painful and limits the movement of the animal. Limping and stiff movements are common in these situations. Osteoarthritis is an irreversible process which cannot be healed with the present treatment options. Therefore, it is crucial to treat cartilage defects before osteoarthritic changes occur. To avoid osteoarthritic changes the original functionality of cartilage tissue needs to be restored and maintained.


COPLA® Joint Treatment is developed for cartilage defect repair: COPLA® provides the correct microenvironment for cartilage repair and offers a long-term solution for wellbeing of the joints.