The effects of tibial tuberosity avulsion and repair on tibial plateau angle in dogs

S Park, K Goggin, J M Morton, D A Hall
N Z Vet J. 2024 Mar;72(2):90-95. doi: 10.1080/00480169.2023.2291036.

Aims: To assess whether tibial tuberosity avulsion injury and subsequent surgical repair in skeletally immature dogs are associated with changes in tibial plateau angle (TPA) at skeletal maturity.

Methods: Skeletally mature (> 18 months of age) dogs that had previously undergone unilateral surgery when 4-8 months of age to repair tibial tuberosity avulsion were enrolled. Bilateral, mediolateral stifle radiographs were taken. TPA was measured digitally from the radiographs independently by two readers and compared between sides within dogs. As the number of dogs that would be enrolled for the main part of the study was unknown, to understand how the variation between left and right stifles within dogs would affect the power of the main study, 29 client-owned, skeletally mature dogs without stifle pathology were recruited prior to the main study for bilateral, mediolateral projection stifle radiographs. Variation in the differences in TPA between left and right stifles was used to estimate the likely power of the major part of the study for different numbers of enrolled dogs.

Results: From 29 dogs enrolled in the power assessment, the SD of the differences between left and right stifles was 2.1°. With 10 dogs (20 stifles) enrolled within the main part of the study, and if the SD of the differences between operated and non-operated stifles within a dog was the same as the SD of the differences between non-operated stifles within a dog (2.1°), the study would have power ≥ 0.8 if the mean difference in TPA between operated and non-operated stifles was ≥ 2.1°.Ten dogs were enrolled in phase II of the study. In 8/10 of these dogs, the TPA in the operated stifle was less than in the non-operated stifle. The mean TPA on the operated stifle was 6.4° less than on the non-operated stifle (95% CI = 2.4-10.3° less; p = 0.002). For surgery between 4 and 8 months of age, TPA at maturity increased by 2.7° (95% CI = 1.1-4.3°; p = 0.001) for each additional month of age at surgery.

Conclusions and clinical relevance: Based on this study, surgical repair of tibial tuberosity avulsion in skeletally immature dogs is associated with a smaller TPA at skeletal maturity. However, causality cannot be established from this cross-sectional study, and this association may be because stifles with a smaller TPA are predisposed to tibial tuberosity avulsion.