Comparative diagnostic imaging of a partial patellar ligament tear in a dog
Traumatic lesions of the patellar ligament (PL) are rare in dogs. The resulting injury can be a complete or partial laceration, depending on the quantity of torn collagen fibres. Information obtained from imaging evaluation is of great value to the clinical approach towards PL injuries, because subsequent treatment options are affected by the distinction between complete or partial tears. Imaging diagnosis of PL damage in veterinary practice commonly relies on radiographic examination through the recognition of indirect signs, such as “patella alta”, bone fragments at the level of the patellar or tibial insertion, and soft tissue opacity at the cranial aspect of the joint. Although ultrasound (US) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have been described as useful diagnostic tools for the assessment of PL tears in human patients, specific comparative data regarding the evaluation of PL rupture in dogs using different imaging modalities is lacking in the veterinary literature. This paper describes the radiographic, ultrasonographic, CT and MRI imaging findings of a partial PL tear in a dog and discusses the utility of these techniques in diagnosing this condition. CT provided more detailed information than X-ray examination in the assessment of the osteoligamentous junction, the exclusion of microfracture and distal PL avulsion, but did not add information regarding PL integrity. MRI and US provided the most useful information regarding intra-ligamentous damage and as such their combined use may be considered for the assessment of PL injuries after clinical examination and survey radiographs.
Keywords: Computed tomography, Dog, Magnetic resonance imaging, Patellar ligament, Ultrasound