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Morphologic and biochemical characterization of hyperextension of the metacarpophalangeal and metatarsophalangeal joints in llamas

Shannon K. ReedDepartment of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331.

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Stacy A. SemevolosDepartment of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331.

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Paul K. RistDepartment of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331.

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Beth A. ValentineDepartment of Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331.

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Abstract

Objective—To determine the morphologic and biochemical characteristics of hyperextension of the metacarpophalangeal and metatarsophalangeal joints in llamas.

Animals—12 adult llamas (6 with bilateral hyperextension of the metacarpophalangeal or metatarsophalangeal joints and 6 age- and sex-matched control llamas).

Procedures—Llamas were evaluated by use of lameness examination, ultrasonography, and radiography. A CBC, serum biochemical analysis, and determination of concentrations of trace minerals in serum and liver samples were performed. Llamas were euthanized, and samples of the superficial digital flexor tendon, deep digital flexor tendon, and suspensory ligament were obtained from 4 areas and snap-frozen in liquid nitrogen or suspended in neutral-buffered 10% formalin. Immunohistochemical evaluation of collagen types I and III and assays for measurement of lysyl oxidase activity were performed.

Results—2 affected llamas had a visible gait deficit associated with metacarpophalangeal joint hyperextension. Radiographic evidence of osteoarthritis was detected in 1 severely affected llama, and ultrasonographic changes of soft tissue mineralization and suspensory desmitis were observed in 2 llamas. Liver concentrations of copper were lower and serum concentrations of zinc higher in affected llamas, compared with values in control llamas. Lysyl oxidase activity and collagen distribution did not differ significantly between groups.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Hyperextension of the metacarpophalangeal or metatarsophalangeal joints in llamas does not appear to be the result of injury or degeneration of the suspensory ligament or flexor tendons. Lower copper concentrations coupled with higher zinc concentrations in affected llamas may be indicative of secondary copper deficiency.

Abstract

Objective—To determine the morphologic and biochemical characteristics of hyperextension of the metacarpophalangeal and metatarsophalangeal joints in llamas.

Animals—12 adult llamas (6 with bilateral hyperextension of the metacarpophalangeal or metatarsophalangeal joints and 6 age- and sex-matched control llamas).

Procedures—Llamas were evaluated by use of lameness examination, ultrasonography, and radiography. A CBC, serum biochemical analysis, and determination of concentrations of trace minerals in serum and liver samples were performed. Llamas were euthanized, and samples of the superficial digital flexor tendon, deep digital flexor tendon, and suspensory ligament were obtained from 4 areas and snap-frozen in liquid nitrogen or suspended in neutral-buffered 10% formalin. Immunohistochemical evaluation of collagen types I and III and assays for measurement of lysyl oxidase activity were performed.

Results—2 affected llamas had a visible gait deficit associated with metacarpophalangeal joint hyperextension. Radiographic evidence of osteoarthritis was detected in 1 severely affected llama, and ultrasonographic changes of soft tissue mineralization and suspensory desmitis were observed in 2 llamas. Liver concentrations of copper were lower and serum concentrations of zinc higher in affected llamas, compared with values in control llamas. Lysyl oxidase activity and collagen distribution did not differ significantly between groups.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Hyperextension of the metacarpophalangeal or metatarsophalangeal joints in llamas does not appear to be the result of injury or degeneration of the suspensory ligament or flexor tendons. Lower copper concentrations coupled with higher zinc concentrations in affected llamas may be indicative of secondary copper deficiency.

Contributor Notes

Supported by the Willamette Valley Llama Foundation.

Presented in part at the 16th Annual American College of Veterinary Surgeons Symposium, Washington, DC, October 2006.

Address correspondence to Dr. Semevolos.