Pet Cruciate Ligament Repair2021-10-29T09:48:03+11:00

What is a Pet Cruciate Ligament Surgery?

The cruciate ligament repair aims to arrest or slow down a ruptured or torn knee ligament. It is the most common knee surgery required by dogs. There are 2 types of pet cruciate ligament repair surgeries for dogs:

  • Triple Tibial Osteotomy (TTO) – for larger dogs

  • Extracapsular Repair (Lateral Suture) – for smaller dogs

Why do pets need a Cruciate Ligament Repair?

There are various causes.

Most dogs, especially if overweight, rupture their cruciates due to repeated low level injury. If the top of the tibia (the tibial plateau) slopes backwards in the dog’s knee, it puts stress on the cruciate ligament and can cause the ligament to rupture with repeated low grade stress. A simple stepping down off the bed or a small jump can be all it takes to break the ligament.

Sometimes, young athletic dogs play roughly and take a bad step which injures the knee. This can cause a sudden lameness, especially in a young large-breed dog.

Over time, the pet’s knee becomes unstable. Wear between the bones and meniscal cartilage becomes abnormal and the joint begins to develop painful arthritis. Bone spurs may develop and results in chronic pain and loss of motion.

Symptoms: How to know if a pet requires Cruciate Ligament Repair?

A sudden rear leg lameness has a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament rather than something else. The history usually involves a rear leg suddenly so sore that the dog can hardly bear weight on it. If left alone, it will appear to improve over the course of a week or two but the knee will be notably swollen and arthritis will set in quickly. Dogs are often seen by the veterinarian in either the acute stage shortly after the injury or in the chronic stage weeks or months later.

  • A sudden rear leg lameness

  • Unable to bear weight on a leg

  • Swollen / arthritic joint

Hurt dog getting messaged by owner on grass

What to expect with a Triple Tibial Osteotomy (TTO) surgery?

The Triple Tibial Osteotomy (TTO) is an intensive procedure requiring precision to treat the cranial cruciate ligament deficiency. It seeks to correct the angle of the tibial plateau to make it flat.

The knee joint is opened and damaged meniscus removed. The tibia is cut and a wedge is removed to ensure that the natural weight-bearing of the dog stabilises the knee joint. The cruciate ligament remnants may or may not be removed depending on the degree of damage.

Fundamentally, this procedure eliminates the stress on the cruciate ligament and is an extremely effective way of managing cruciate disease.

Pets are sent home on two days after the surgery.

This procedure typically costs more than the extracapsular repair as it is more invasive to the joint.

What to expect with an Extracapsular Repair (Lateral Suture) surgery?

The Extracapsular Repair surgery is ideal for dogs of up to 15kg in weight.

The knee joint is opened, inspected and the torn or partly torn cruciate ligament is removed. Any bone spurs of significant size are bitten away. If the meniscus is torn, the damaged portion is removed. A large, strong suture is passed around the fabella behind the knee and through a hole drilled in the front of the tibia. This tightens the joint to prevent the drawer motion, effectively taking over the job of the cruciate ligament.

The Extracapsular Repair surgery can be performed in a relatively shorter time than the other procedures and still gives a good outcome.

With regards to recovery:

  • Typically, the dog may carry the leg up for a good 2 weeks after surgery but will increase knee use over the next 2 months, eventually returning to normal.

  • Typically, the dog will require 8 weeks of exercise restriction after surgery (no running, only outside on a leash, including the backyard).

  • The suture placed will break 2 to 12 months after surgery and the dog’s own healed tissue will hold the knee.

Tips for Recovery

Here are some best practices:

  • Reduced activity for the first 6 weeks

  • No vigorous play

  • Keep the dog in a small enclosed area such as laundry, bathroom or portable corral

  • For TTO, icing helps. The area can be chilled with a padded ice pack for no longer than 10-minutes a couple times daily.

  • Water treadmill is helpful after the first 6 weeks

Recovering dog under a blanket with a mug

Frequently Asked Questions

Every pet is different. As such, we strongly recommend you regard the following advice as general information only. Call us for any specific enquiries.

Is it likely that this injury will repeat itself?2021-10-25T11:58:23+11:00

Yes. Larger overweight dogs that rupture one cruciate ligament frequently rupture the other one within a year’s time. An owner should be prepared for another surgery in this time frame.

Will my pet need a follow-up appointment after the surgery?2021-10-25T11:59:52+11:00

Yes. Your pet needs to be monitored to ensure that it is indeed on the path to recovery. Follow-ups could be done either at Mitcham Pet Hospital or at the original referring pet hospital.

What if the Rupture Isn’t Discovered for Years and Joint Disease is Already Advanced?2021-10-25T12:01:02+11:00

A knee replacement is now another option for severely arthritic knees at a surgical specialist.

Is it likely that this injury will repeat itself?2021-10-25T11:58:23+11:00

Yes. Larger overweight dogs that rupture one cruciate ligament frequently rupture the other one within a year’s time. An owner should be prepared for another surgery in this time frame.

Will my pet need a follow-up appointment after the surgery?2021-10-25T11:59:52+11:00

Yes. Your pet needs to be monitored to ensure that it is indeed on the path to recovery. Follow-ups could be done either at Mitcham Pet Hospital or at the original referring pet hospital.

What if the Rupture Isn’t Discovered for Years and Joint Disease is Already Advanced?2021-10-25T12:01:02+11:00

A knee replacement is now another option for severely arthritic knees at a surgical specialist.

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