A cranial intercondylar arthroscopic approach to the caudal medial femorotibial joint of the horse

Muurlink, T.; Walmsley, J.; Young, D.; Whitton, C.
Equine Veterinary Journal
January 2009

Reason for performing study: Current noninvasive techniques for imaging the soft tissue structures of the stifle have limitations. Arthroscopy is commonly used for the investigation and treatment of stifle pain. Cranial and caudal arthroscopic approaches to the femorotibial joints are used. However, complete examination of the axial aspect of the medial femorotibial joint (MFTJ) is not possible currently.

Objective: To develop a cranial approach to the caudal pouch of the MFTJ and to assess whether it would allow a more complete examination of the compartment and facilitate the caudomedial approach.

Method: The regional anatomy was reviewed and the technique developed on cadavers. A series of nonrecovery surgeries were performed to evaluate the procedure, which was then used in 7 clinical cases. Advantages compared to existing techniques and complications encountered were recorded.

Results: Successful entry into the caudal pouch of the MFTJ was achieved in 20 of 22 cadaver legs, 8 of 8 joints of nonrecovery surgery horses and 6 of 7 clinical cases operated. The caudal ligament of the medial meniscus could be visualised, along with other axial structures of the caudal joint pouch. The technique was used to facilitate a caudomedial approach and allowed better triangulation within the joint space. Complications were minor and included puncture of the caudal joint capsule and scoring of the axial medial femoral condyle.

Conclusions and potential relevance: It is possible to access the caudal pouch of the MFTJ arthroscopically using a cranial intercondylar approach. The technique has advantages when compared to existing techniques and is associated with few significant complications. A cranial approach to the caudal pouch of the MFTJ could complement existing techniques and be useful clinically.