BACKGROUND: Complete rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament (CrCL) in dogs causes profound disturbance to stifle joint biomechanics. The objective of this study was to characterize the effects of cranial cruciate ligament (CrCL) insufficiency on patellofemoral (PF) kinematics in dogs during walking. Ten client-owned dogs (20-40 kg) with natural unilateral complete CrCL rupture were included. Dogs underwent computed tomographic scans to create digital bone-models of the patella and femur. Lateral projection fluoroscopy of the stifles was performed during treadmill walking. Sagittal plane PF kinematics were calculated throughout the gait cycle by overlaying digital bone models on fluoroscopic images using a previously described 2D-3D registration technique. For acquisition of kinematics in the contralateral (control) stifle, fluoroscopy was repeated 6-months after stabilizing surgery of the affected side. Results were compared between the pre-operative CrCL-deficient and 6-month post-operative control stifles.
RESULTS: Craniocaudal PF translation was similar between CrCL-deficient and control stifles throughout the gait cycle. The patella was more distal and positioned in greater flexion throughout the gait cycle in CrCL-deficient stifles when compared to the control stifle at equivalent time points. There was no significant difference in PF poses between CrCL-deficient and control stifles at equivalent femorotibial flexion angles; however, common femorotibial flexion angles were only found over a small range during the swing phase of gait.
CONCLUSIONS: CrCL insufficiency altered PF kinematics during walking, where the changes were predominately attributable to the femorotibial joint being held in more flexion. Abnormal PF kinematics may play a role in the development of osteoarthritis that is commonly observed in the PF joint CrCL-deficient stifles.