Objective: To examine the relationship between the severity of cartilage damage and the severity of meniscus damage after transection of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACLT) in adult dogs.
Design: Data were obtained from 40 dogs which underwent ACLT and from three additional sham-operated dogs that were subjected to arthrotomy but not ligament transection. Joint pathology was analysed 12, 24 or 32 weeks after surgery. The severity of damage to the articular cartilage on the femoral condyle and tibial plateau was graded with a scoring system based on that of the Sociètè Française d'Arthroscopie and meniscus damage was graded on a 0-4 scale.
Results: No damage to the meniscus or articular cartilage was observed 12 weeks after surgery in the dogs subjected only to arthrotomy. In contrast, tears of the medial meniscus were observed in two of 10 (20%) dogs examined 12 weeks after ACLT. The incidence of severe tears increased to 86% and 84% after 24 weeks and 32 weeks, respectively. Damage to the lateral meniscus was mild, with only 7.5% of all dogs with a cruciate-deficient knee having a bucket handle or complete tear. Most of the unstable knees exhibited ulceration of the articular cartilage of the femoral condyles and tibial plateaus 12 weeks (mean chondropathy score+/-standard deviation 11.9+/-8.5, N=10), 24 weeks (7.9+/-5.0, N=7), and 32 weeks (7.1+/-5.5, N=23) after ACLT. The mean chondropathy scores for the tibial plateaus were similar to those for the femoral condyles. No correlation was apparent between the severity of cartilage damage and of meniscus damage for either joint surface.
Conclusion: Damage to the medial meniscus is a consistent feature of the pathology which develops in the canine knee after ACLT, but the severity of cartilage damage is not correlated with the severity of meniscal damage.
Copyright 2002 OsteoArthritis Research Society International.