Biomechanical evaluation of 6 transarticular tibiotarsal immobilization methods in canine cadaveric limbs

Vet Surg. 2018 Jul 26. [Epub ahead of print]

Objective: To determine the effects of 6 types of transarticular immobilization techniques on tibiotarsal joint angles during stimulated weight bearing.

Study design: Canine ex vivo biomechanical study.

Sample population: Canine cadaveric pelvic limbs (n = 15).

Methods: A validation study was conducted to determine tibiotarsal flexion before and after transection of the superficial digital flexor tendon in 5 canine cadaveric limbs without tibiotarsal joint immobilization. Six transarticular tibiotarsal immobilization techniques were tested sequentially in 10 canine cadaveric pelvic limbs. The tibiotarsal joint angles were measured from lateral projection radiographs before and during axial loading of 200 N. Mixed linear models were applied to determine the effects of the immobilization techniques on change in tibiotarsal joint angle under loading.

Results: There was no change of tibiotarsal joint angle between extended digits and flexed digits under both unloaded and loaded conditions. Change in tibiotarsal joint angles did not differ among any of the immobilization techniques tested here (mean change 1.36°, range 0‐5). The main contributor to variance in angle explained by the final model was associated with the random effect for limb.

Conclusion: Changes in tibiotarsal joint angles during single static loading in canine cadaveric limbs for the 6 immobilization techniques were minimal.

Clinical significance: The 6 techniques appear equally effective at limiting tibiotarsal joint flexion during single axial loading of 200 N. Cyclic mechanical testing of these techniques is recommended to support our findings and validate their clinical application.