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Objective— To develop a radiographic stress technique to quantify hip joint laxity in dogs.

Study Design— Prospective study on client-owned dogs presented for hip dysplasia screening.

Animal Population— 302 nonselected dogs (63 breeds).

Methods— Dogs were sedated and placed in dorsal recumbency. During pelvic radiography, the femoral heads were displaced manually in a craniodorsal direction. On these stress radiographs, the degree of lateral displacement of the femoral heads was assessed in terms of a subluxation index (SI) and compared with the degree of femoral head subluxation and the severity of hip dysplasia found on conventional extended hindlimb radiographs.

Results— The degree of subluxation on stress radiographs was significantly greater than on conventional radiographs. Correlation between the severity of canine hip dysplasia (CHD), graded according to conventional techniques, and the degree of subluxation, induced by radiographic stress technique, was positive (r= .57; P < .0001). Two critical SI values were noted. Of the dogs with an SI value of 0.3 or less, 99% were classified as CHD grade normal, borderline, or mildly dysplastic. In dogs with an SI value between 0.3 and 0.5, CHD grading ranged from normal to severely dysplastic. Of the dogs with an SI value greater than 0.5, 95% had dysplastic hip joints.

Conclusions— Hip joint laxity cannot be quantified precisely on standard position radiographs. The proposed stress technique yields significantly higher degrees of femoral head subluxation than the standard position.