Gold bead implants are used to treat a variety of conditions, from epilepsy to hip dysplasia. This procedure is most commonly performed on dogs with hip dysplasia. However, it is also beneficial in conditions when joints are arthritic. Degenerative joint disease (arthritis) of the stifles (knees), hips, back, shoulders, and elbows can effectively be treated with gold beads.

Dr. Terry Durkes developed the technique of gold bead implantation more than 20 years ago, and is the foremost authority on the subject. The statistics of response to therapy listed below are from Dr. Durke’s work. I have followed his recommendations and have achieved comparable results over the last 12 years, on more than 1000 patients.

How do gold beads work?

Gold bead implantation appears to increase joint stability. When joint stability occurs, it becomes less painful, and calcium resorption and subsequent arthritic absorption begins to occur. This can be appreciated on radiographs in some patients. If the discussion of prolozone therapy is reviewed, it is noted that that procedure also increases joint stability. Because of this, the two procedures can be used in conjunction with one another.

What kind of results with hip dysplasia are expected with gold bead implantation?

Hip dysplasia is a very commons disease in the canine. The majority of dogs treated under 7 years of age are 98% successful. This is attributed to overall strength and muscle development. As the pain is diminished, the muscles continue to increase in strength and the joint again increases in stability. From 7-12 years, the success rate drops to about 75%. As the condition has progressed, severe arthritis has set in and initial muscle atrophy has occurred. The success is dependent on the ability of atrophied muscles to increase in size and strength. Electro-acupuncture (stimulation of acupuncture points with a TENS unit) after gold beads have been implanted is recommended at 2 month intervals to “reactivate” the beads and enhance muscle development. Over 12 years of age, patients with extreme muscle atrophy do not respond well.

What kind of results are expected in dogs with spondylosis (arthritis of the spine)?

Arthritis of the spine occurs frequently in large breeds. Their vertebra are unstable and the body develops bone deposition or arthritis secondary to the joint laxity. Gold bead implantation is very effective at blocking pain, and results are very good, especially when combined with chiropractic therapies. As with hip dysplasia, advanced cases may benefit from electro-acupuncture at 2 month intervals.

What kind of results are obtained with arthritis of the stifle?

Good results are obtained in this region of the body also. However, it is imperative that the joint be stabilized prior to bead implantation. This can be achieved with conventional surgery or, as we do in our practice, the use of prolozone therapy.

Do epileptic seizures respond to gold bead implantation?

In our practice, we treat epilepsy primarily with acupuncture and herbal therapies, with or without western medications, depending on the severity and frequency of the seizures. However, in dogs that seizure in the face of heavy western medications, we use gold beads to dramatically decrease the severity of the epileptic seizure syndrome. Dr. Durke indicates in non-cluster patients that 60% will require no medication and have no seizures. 20% will get by with reduced levels of medication, and 20% will be failures. In dogs that cluster seizure, a 60% success rate occurs at the present level of medication, and 40% are failures. Of the 60% that respond to gold bead implantation, 30% of those can receive medication at a reduced level.