Abnormal reflex activation of hamstring muscles in dogs with cranial cruciate ligament rupture.
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The mechanisms underlying cranial cruciate ligament rupture (CCLR) in dogs are poorly understood. In this study hamstring muscle reflexes in response to cranial tibial translation were analysed to determine whether these active stabilisers of the stifle joint are differently activated in dogs with CCLR compared to control dogs. In a prospective clinical study reflex muscle activity from the lateral and medial hamstring muscles (biceps femoris and semimembranosus) was recorded using surface electrodes in control dogs (n=21) and dogs with CCLR (n=22). These electromyographic recordings were analysed using an algorithm previously validated in humans. The hamstring reflex was reliably and reproducibly recorded in normal dogs. Both a short latency response (SLR, 17.62.1ms) and a medium latency response (MLR, 37.72.7ms) could be identified. In dogs with unilateral CCLR, the SLR and MLR were not significantly different between the affected and the unaffected limbs, but the MLR latency of both affected and unaffected limbs in CCLR dogs were significantly prolonged compared to controls. In conclusion, the hamstring reflex can be recorded in dogs and the MLR is prolonged in dogs with CCLR. Since both affected and unaffected limbs exhibit prolonged MLR, it is possible that abnormal hamstring reflex activation is a mechanism by which progressive CCL damage may occur. The methodology allows for further investigation of the relationship between neuromuscular imbalance and CCLR or limitations in functional recovery following surgical intervention.