Growth profiles and articular cartilage characterization in a goat model of Legg-Calve-Perthes disease

J Invest Surg. 1995 Nov-Dec;8(6):391-408. doi: 10.3109/08941939509031606.


Numerous animal species, including the goat, have been evaluated as potential models for human Legg-Calve-Perthes disease (LCPD). These models disrupt the vasculature of the femoral head, causing it to collapse, and therefore do not mimic all the clinical patterns of the human disease. Baseline data regarding the weight and femoral length in the growing goat are not available. This study characterized the goat's normal growth for comparison with that of humans. The growth aberrations in the proximal femur created by surgically ablating the capital physis were described and compared with the aberrations observed in human LCPD cases. Age, weight, and femoral length (test and control) data were obtained for goats approximately 1 to 14 months of age. At 4 months of age, a craniolateral surgical approach was used to expose the cranial lateral capital physis so that it could be cauterized. Postoperative radiographs were evaluated by graphic analysis to assess the resultant changes in the morphology of the proximal femur. The articular cartilage of the femoral head and acetabulum was evaluated mechanically, using indentation testing, to determine the apparent modulus of elasticity, and histopathologically regarding its thickness and proteoglycan content. The proximal femurs of goats and humans exhibit similar morphology and growth patterns. There was a positive correlation between age, weight, and femoral lengths in the goat. The surgical procedure was effective in ablating the capital femoral physis as indicated by shorter femoral lengths and fragmented, flattened, and mushroomed femoral heads. The histopathological data revealed that the articular cartilage was significantly thicker in the operated hip joints at the ventrocaudal and cranial acetabula and the dorsal and ventral femoral heads. The test cartilage exhibited significantly less positive staining for proteoglycans in the dorsocaudal and the cranial acetabula as well as the ventral femoral head. The apparent modulus of elasticity, of the test cartilage was significantly lower than the control value at the dorsocaudal acetabulum. These data show that the surgical procedure produced morphological changes that mimic those in human LCPD. The increased thickness of the articular cartilage of the LCPD femoral head may account for the articular degeneration observed in older patients with LCPD, as increased cartilage thickness is associated with decreased tissue quality.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cartilage, Articular / diagnostic imaging
  • Cartilage, Articular / growth & development*
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Femur / diagnostic imaging
  • Femur / growth & development*
  • Femur / pathology
  • Goats
  • Humans
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease / diagnostic imaging
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease / physiopathology*
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease / surgery
  • Male
  • Orchiectomy
  • Radiography
  • Time Factors