People are not equally disabled by combined anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)/medial collateral ligament (MCL) injuries, nor do they all develop osteoarthritis (OA). Although biological/biomechanical causes are not clear, some association presumably exists between joint instability and OA development. We hypothesized that degree of OA development following standardized complete ACL/MCL injuries will vary directly with the degree of biomechanical abnormality between individuals. Three groups of sheep were used to test the hypothesis: 17 normal, 9 ACL/MCL transected, and 7 sham animals. Normal joints were assessed morphologically while sham and experimental animals had gait assessment pre- and at 4 and 20 weeks post-surgery, with cartilage and bone changes being mapped and graded at sacrifice at 20 weeks. Sham joints were morphologically normal and had only one minor kinematic change at 20 weeks. Although variable, ACL/MCL deficient animals showed significant kinematic abnormalities in 4/6 degrees of freedom (DOFs), as well as cartilage/bone damage by 20 weeks (p < 0.05). Linear regression analysis revealed that changes in medial-lateral (ML) translation were related to the current level of joint degradation as represented by total gross OA score (p = 0.0044, R(2) = 0.71) in the ACL/MCL transected group. Even identical ACL/MCL injuries result in inter-animal variations in instability and OA, however significant kinematic abnormalities in ML translation do relate to early OA in sheep.
Copyright © 2011 Orthopaedic Research Society.