Biomechanical cyclic loading test of a synthetic ligament fixation system used for intra-articular stabilization of deficient canine stifles

Open Vet J. 2022 May-Jun;12(3):341-350. doi: 10.5455/OVJ.2022.v12.i3.6. Epub 2022 May 29.


Background: Cranial cruciate ligament rupture (CCLr) is the most common cause of hind limb lameness in dogs. Currently, surgical management of CCLr is mostly performed using tibial osteotomy techniques to modify the biomechanical conformation of the affected stifle. These surgical techniques have a significant complication rate, associated with persistent instability of the stifle which may lead to chronic postoperative pain. Over the last decade, studies have been published on various techniques of anatomical caudal cruciate ligament reconstruction in veterinary practice, using physiological autografts or woven synthetic implants.

Aim: The aim of this ex vivo biomechanical study is to investigate the ex vivo dynamic biomechanical behavior of a synthetic implant [ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) implant] fixed with interference screws for the treatment of CCLr in dogs, according to a fatigue protocol (48 hours per test).

Methods: Seven stifles from four skeletally mature canine cadavers were implanted with the synthetic implant. It was fixed with four interference screws inserted in transversal and oblique tunnels in both the distal femur and the proximal tibia. For each case, 100,000 cycles were performed at 0.58 Hz, with traction loads ranging from 100 to 210 N.

Results: Neither screw-bone assembly rupture nor a pull-out issue was observed during the dynamic tests. Linear stiffness of the implants associated with a fixation system with four interference screws increased over time. The final displacement did not exceed 3 mm for five of the seven specimens. Five of the seven synthetic implants yielded to a lengthening in functional range (0-3 mm). Linear stiffness was homogeneous among samples, showing a strong dynamic strength of the interference screw-based fixations of the UHMWPE implant in the femoral and tibial bones.

Conclusion: This study completes the existing literature on the biomechanical evaluation of passive stifle stabilization techniques with a testing protocol focused on cyclic loading at a given force level instead of driven by displacement. These biomechanical results should revive interest in intra-articular reconstruction after rupture of the CCLr in dogs.

Keywords: Biomechanical analysis; Cranial cruciate ligament; Dog; Synthetic ligament reconstruction; UHMWPE implant.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament / surgery
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries* / surgery
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries* / veterinary
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Bone Screws / veterinary
  • Dog Diseases*
  • Dogs
  • Stifle / surgery