Objective—To determine the anatomic communications among compartments within the carpus, metacarpophalangeal and metatarsophalangeal joints, stifle joint, and tarsus in llamas.
Sample Population—88 limbs from 22 llamas necropsied because of reasons unrelated to disease of the carpus; tarsus; or metacarpophalangeal, metatarsophalangeal, or stifle joints.
Procedure—1 compartment (randomly assigned) of each joint was injected with blue latex solution. Communication between joint compartments was determined by observation of latex in adjacent compartments following frozen sectioning.
Results—Of the 44 carpi, 30 (68%) had anatomic separation between the radiocarpal and middle carpal joints, whereas the remaining 14 (32%) had communication between the radiocarpal and middle carpal joints. In the metacarpophalangeal or metatarsophalangeal joints, medial and lateral joint compartments remained separate in 83 of 88 (94%) joints injected. The tibiotarsal and proximal intertarsal joints communicated in all tarsi examined, whereas 14 of 38 (37%) communicated between the proximal intertarsal and distal intertarsal joints. Communication between the distal intertarsal and tarsometatarsal joints was detected in 17 of 25 (68%) specimens; all 4 tarsal joints communicated in 11 of 42 (26%) specimens examined. Examination of 33 stifle joints that were successfully injected revealed communication between the femoropatellar, medial femorotibial, and lateral femorotibial joints.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—These data suggest that it is important to determine the joint communications specific to each llama prior to treatment of septic arthritis. The metacarpophalangeal or metatarsophalangeal joint compartments may be considered separate, although the lateral and medial compartments infrequently communicate along the proximal palmar or plantar aspect. (Am J Vet Res 2005;66:1437–1440)