Movement between the equine ilium and sacrum: in vivo and in vitro studies

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Reasons for performing study:

Sacroiliac disease (SID) is an important cause of loss of performance in horses, yet little is known about the biomechanics of movement of the sacroiliac joint (SIJ).


(a) To document the presence of equine SIJ motion by measuring the change in cross-sectional area (CSA) of the dorsal portion of the dorsal sacroiliac ligament (DSIL) during application of manual forces to the pelvis, and to ascertain if this varied between horses with SID and normal horses; (b) To determine the amount and direction of motion available at the equine SIJ using 3-D orientation sensors, and how motion is limited by the DSIL and sacrotuberous ligament.

Methods: Study 1:

CSA obtained ultrasonographically was compared before and during manual force application to the ilium, on a group of 10 horses, 5 with SID and 5 clinically normal.Study 2:direction and degrees of motion between sacrum and ilium were measured in 8 cadaveric SIJs. 3D orientation sensors were mounted to the fixated sacrum and the moveable ilium, and relative motion recorded between the 2 bones when manual forces were applied to the ilium.

Results: Study 1

showed a significant decrease in the CSA of the equine DSIL during application of manual forces to bothtuber coxae(TC) (P<0.001) andtuber sacrale(TS) (P<0.001) when compared to at rest.Study 2described range of motion to be greatest in the transverse or coronal plane, when lateral and oblique forces were applied to the pelvis, and recorded significant increases (P<0.05) in range of motion in the sagittal plane following resection of both the DSIL and sacrotuberous ligament.

Conclusion and potential relevance:

The change in DSIL CSA with application of manual force may be due to a lengthening of the ligament, reflecting equine SIJ motionin vivo.The motion recorded between ilium and sacrumin vitrosuggests that greatest sacroiliac motion may occur in the transverse plane. Increases in range of motion following resection of ligaments give some indication of the role of each ligament.

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