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Am J Vet Res. 1985 Sep;46(9):1842-54.

Correlative biomechanical and histologic study of the cranial cruciate ligament in dogs.


The mechanical properties of the cranial cruciate ligament were determined, using unilateral bone-ligament-bone preparations from 65 dogs of various ages and body sizes. Tensile loading of the cranial cruciate ligament from 1 of each pair of stifle joints demonstrated a decrease in material properties (modulus, maximum stress, strain energy) with aging. The decreases in maximum stress and strain energy with age were significantly less (P less than 0.05 and P less than 0.05, respectively) in the cranial cruciate ligament from dogs weighing less than 15 kg, compared with those weighing 15 kg or more. The cranial cruciate ligament and remaining femorotibial ligaments were collected from the opposite stifle joints and examined microscopically. By 5 years of age, the cranial cruciate ligaments of dogs weighing greater than 15 kg consistently had microscopic evidence of degenerative disease (loss of ligamentocytes, metaplasia of surviving ligamentocytes to chondrocytes, and failure to maintain collagen fibers and primary collagen bundles) which progressed in severity with age. The caudal cruciate ligaments were similarly affected, although the degenerative changes were rarely as severe as in the cranial cruciate ligament. The collateral ligaments underwent minimal degeneration. Sex differences had no bearing on degeneration. The cranial cruciate ligaments in dogs weighing less than 15 kg generally had less severe alterations than those in heavier dogs, and the onset of the degenerative process was delayed by several years. Cranial cruciate ligaments removed from dogs after ligament failure not only had degenerative disease, but also had undergone unsuccessful attempts at repair. In contrast, fibrous repair was rarely present in intact ligaments of asymptomatic dogs with degenerative disease of the cranial cruciate ligament.

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