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In vitro biomechanical evaluation of four surgical techniques for fusion of equine centrodistal and tarsometatarsal joints

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  • 1 Department of Surgical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706.
  • | 2 Barrie Grant Equine Consultant, 5256 S Mission Rd, No. 703 PBM 805, Bonsall, CA 92003.
  • | 3 Department of Medical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706.
  • | 4 Department of Surgical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706.
  • | 5 Office of the Dean, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To evaluate the biomechanical properties of 4 methods for fusion of the centrodistal and tarsometatarsal joints in horses and compare them among each other and with control tarsi.

SAMPLE 24 sets of paired tarsi without substantial signs of osteoarthritis harvested from equine cadavers.

PROCEDURES Test constructs (n = 6/type) were prepared from 1 tarsus from each pair to represent surgical drilling; 2 medially to laterally placed kerf-cut cylinders (MLKCs); a single large, dorsally applied kerf-cut cylinder (DKC); and a dorsomedially applied locking compression plate (DMLCP). Constructs and their contralateral control tarsi were evaluated in 4-point bending in the dorsoplantar, lateromedial, and mediolateral directions; internal and external rotation; and axial compression. Bending, torsional, and axial stiffness values were calculated.

RESULTS Mean stiffness values were consistently lower for surgical drilling constructs than for contralateral control tarsi. Over all biomechanical testing, surgical drilling significantly reduced joint stability. The MLKC constructs had superior biomechanical properties to those of control tarsi for 4-point bending but inferior properties for external and internal rotation. The DMLCP and DKC constructs were superior to control tarsi in dorsoplantar, rotational, and axial compression directions only; DMLCP constructs had no superior stiffness in lateromedial or mediolateral directions. Only the DKC constructs had greater stiffness in the mediolateral direction than did control tarsi. Over all biomechanical testing, DMLCP and DKC constructs were superior to the other constructs.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE These biomechanical results suggested that a surgical drilling approach to joint fusion may reduce tarsal stability in horses without clinical osteoarthritis, compared with stability with no intervention, whereas the DMLCP and DKC approaches may significantly enhance stability.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Biedrzycki's present address is Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610.

Address correspondence to Dr. Biedrzycki (dradam@ufl.edu).