To evaluate the technical feasibility, efficacy and potential soft tissue damage of a joint distraction technique to facilitate arthroscopy of the tibio-tarsal joint and to test the effect of joint venting on the maximum distraction achieved.
Twenty hocks were preliminarily evaluated radiographically by standard and stressed projections. Joint distraction was applied with loads from 40 N up to 200 N, in 40 N increments, and radiographic images were obtained at each load. The effect of joint venting by an intra-articular needle was evaluated at the maximum load. Standard and stressed radiographs were repeated to evaluate potential laxity changes.
Joint distraction caused a significant increase in the joint space at each load of distraction except for the 40 to 80 N load increase. Joint venting produced a significant increase in the joint space. No increase of joint laxity could be inferred from the postdistraction radiographic evaluation.
Hock distraction can be useful to facilitate arthroscopic procedures, increasing the joint space available for intra-articular manoeuvres. Further clinical studies are required to evaluate potential neurovascular complications.