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Objective: To (1) determine the microanatomic vascular distribution in ruptured canine cranial cruciate ligaments (CCL) using specific vascular immunohistochemical techniques, and (2) compare vessel density between ruptured and intact canine CCL and between different areas of interest in ruptured CCL using histomorphometric analysis.

Study Design: In vitro study.

Animals: Dogs (n=41) admitted for surgical treatment of ruptured CCL and 19 dogs euthanatized for nonorthopedic conditions.

Methods: Diseased (variable CCL rupture) and intact (normal control) CCL were processed for immunohistochemical staining specific to vessels (factor VIII, laminin). Mean vascular density was assessed and compared in areas of interest (torn end versus remaining core regions of CCL, proximal femoral versus distal tibial core CCL regions).

Results: Ruptured CCL was more vascular than intact CCL; however there was no difference in vascular density between the torn end and the remaining core area of the ruptured CCL. Ruptured CCL was vascularized to a greater degree at the proximal portion than the distal portion of the CCL. Partially ruptured CCLs had a higher vessel density than completely ruptured CCLs.

Conclusions: Vascular density is increased in diseased CCL compared with intact CCL. It remains to be determined whether this finding is associated with the cause of CCL rupture or is a result of CCL degeneration and rupture.