Functional, radiographic, and histologic assessment of healing of autogenous osteochondral grafts and full-thickness cartilage defects in the talus of dogs

Terry L. Dew From The Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061.

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Robert A. Martin From The Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061.

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Summary

A circular (5.5 mm diameter) full-thickness cartilage defect was created on the medial ridge of the talus in 12 skeletally mature dogs. In 6 dogs, the articular surface of the lesion was repaired, using an osteochondral graft obtained from the ipsilateral manus. The graft (digit I, first phalanx, distal articular surface and diaphysis) was contoured to obtain a press fit in the drilled talar recipient site. In 6 dogs, the lesion was not treated and healed by fibrous tissue replacement. Functional assessment (lameness, hock range of motion, joint stability, joint crepitus, and mid-femoral muscle circumference) was completed before surgery and at postoperative weeks 2 through 20. Radiographic assessment (periarticular soft tissue width, joint space width, osteophyte formation, and graft incorporation) was completed before surgery and at postoperative weeks 0, 6, 12, and 20. To facilitate histologic assessment, tissues were stained with toluidine blue and H&E. Histologic assessment of the articular surface on the surgically treated talus, ipsilateral tibia, and contralateral talus was completed, using a modification of the Mankin grading system. Subchondral bone was examined to assess graft viability and incorporation. Analysis of the ordinal data was completed, using a Mann-Whitney rank sum test.

All dogs were fully weight bearing by postoperative week 7. Dogs without grafts had significantly (P = 0.036) better clinical function at postoperative week 6. Significant difference in functional assessment was not evident at postoperative week 20. Immediate postoperative radiographic assessment revealed significant (P = 0.005) difference between nongrafted and grafted groups. Significant difference was not observed at postoperative week 6, 12, or 20. All grafts appeared radiographically incorporated by postoperative week 12. All grafts restored joint surface congruity, whereas 3 of 6 nongrafted lesions had poor articular congruity. Of 6 grafts, 4 partially retained normal hyaline cartilage, resulting in significantly (P = 0.014) lower Mankin grades. Significant histologic differences between groups were not apparent when the apposing tibia and control talus were examined.

Talar reconstruction by use of a phalangeal osteochondral graft is a viable surgical procedure. These data indicate that normal articular and subchondral architecture are more closely approximated by osteochondral reconstruction than by fibrous tissue repair.

Summary

A circular (5.5 mm diameter) full-thickness cartilage defect was created on the medial ridge of the talus in 12 skeletally mature dogs. In 6 dogs, the articular surface of the lesion was repaired, using an osteochondral graft obtained from the ipsilateral manus. The graft (digit I, first phalanx, distal articular surface and diaphysis) was contoured to obtain a press fit in the drilled talar recipient site. In 6 dogs, the lesion was not treated and healed by fibrous tissue replacement. Functional assessment (lameness, hock range of motion, joint stability, joint crepitus, and mid-femoral muscle circumference) was completed before surgery and at postoperative weeks 2 through 20. Radiographic assessment (periarticular soft tissue width, joint space width, osteophyte formation, and graft incorporation) was completed before surgery and at postoperative weeks 0, 6, 12, and 20. To facilitate histologic assessment, tissues were stained with toluidine blue and H&E. Histologic assessment of the articular surface on the surgically treated talus, ipsilateral tibia, and contralateral talus was completed, using a modification of the Mankin grading system. Subchondral bone was examined to assess graft viability and incorporation. Analysis of the ordinal data was completed, using a Mann-Whitney rank sum test.

All dogs were fully weight bearing by postoperative week 7. Dogs without grafts had significantly (P = 0.036) better clinical function at postoperative week 6. Significant difference in functional assessment was not evident at postoperative week 20. Immediate postoperative radiographic assessment revealed significant (P = 0.005) difference between nongrafted and grafted groups. Significant difference was not observed at postoperative week 6, 12, or 20. All grafts appeared radiographically incorporated by postoperative week 12. All grafts restored joint surface congruity, whereas 3 of 6 nongrafted lesions had poor articular congruity. Of 6 grafts, 4 partially retained normal hyaline cartilage, resulting in significantly (P = 0.014) lower Mankin grades. Significant histologic differences between groups were not apparent when the apposing tibia and control talus were examined.

Talar reconstruction by use of a phalangeal osteochondral graft is a viable surgical procedure. These data indicate that normal articular and subchondral architecture are more closely approximated by osteochondral reconstruction than by fibrous tissue repair.

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