BACKGROUND: Hip arthroscopy has become a viable option over the last few years for small animal orthopedic diseases, including hip dysplasia, osteoarthritis, and joint evaluation. However, the narrow joint spaces make it difficult to manipulate the instrument, and depth of tissues make it difficult to distract the joint space. In addition, it is very difficult to maintain consistent distraction over time with a manual distraction due to hand fatigue. To overcome these difficulties, distractors are used in human medicine to improve safety and accuracy of arthroscopy. Therefore, in this study, distractor devices were applied to hip joints in small toy breed dogs to evaluate their technical efficacy. Potential iatrogenic neurovascular and articular damage were also evaluated by comparing two techniques for performing hip joint arthroscopy: the self-retaining distractor and external manipulation.
RESULTS: The mean ± SD of the joint distraction distance was 8.88 ± 3.54 mm in the self-retaining distraction group and 2.37 ± 0.82 mm in the manual traction group. As the joint space increased, surgeons could more easily place an arthroscopy portal and more comfortably manipulate the instrument with a distractor device. Furthermore, the acetabular cartilage damage (p = 0.004) was significantly greater in the external manipulation group, but articular damage to the femoral head (p = 0.940) was similar in both groups.
CONCLUSION: The results of this study revealed that use of a distractor device can be a viable option for performing hip arthroscopy in small animals. The device significantly improved the surgeon's performance without surgical assistance, and it reduced iatrogenic cartilage damage compared with manual traction. Further study is needed to quantify neurapraxia associated with distractor placement.