It’s extremely common for dogs—especially older and overweight dogs—to rupture their cranial cruciate ligaments (CCL). This ligament is found in the knee and its human equivalent is the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL. When a dog ruptures this ligament, their knee joint becomes unstable and they will limp on the affected limb. Because CCL tears cause such significant mobility issues for pets, it’s important to get these injuries treated as quickly as possible.
At Gateway Animal Hospital, our surgeons perform orthopedic surgeries like cranial cruciate ligament repairs. We recommend a procedure called a tibial plateau leveling osteotomy or TPLO for dogs weighing more than twenty pounds. For smaller dogs and cats, we treat the torn CCL using a technique called extracapsular repair or lateral suture.
Our surgeons have experience in both procedures and will consult with you about the preferred method for your pet. The best surgical option for your dog will generally depend on the size and age of your dog.
Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA)
The TTA procedure can be considered for almost any dog with CCL disease. We recommend a TTA for our orthopedic patients, and although recent studies have suggested that the TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy) may result in better long-term function than the TTA, the TTA may still be chosen for certain dogs. These dogs may include poor TPLO candidates or dogs with multiple knee problems (concurrent patellar luxation and CCL disease for example). A Gateway surgeon may recommend a TTA after full assessment of the patients’ history and condition.
The tibial tuberocity is stabilized using special implants in a manner so as to align the patellar ligament in a perpendicular fashion to the tibial plateau. If a TTA is not the right choice for your pet, we can provide a referral for a TPLO.
Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO)
A torn CCL results in painful instability of the knee joint. The Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) method of treating a torn CCL alters the geometry of the knee joint to make the joint stable. It involves making a cut in the tibia or shin bone and plating the bone in place. Once the bone is healed, the repair is permanent. Most dogs return to weight-bearing on the affected leg soon after surgery, but their activity needs to be partially restricted for six to eight weeks while the bone heals in place. It is a highly effective procedure and is the preferred procedure for most dogs weighing over twenty pounds.
Extracapsular (Lateral Suture) Repair
Extracapsular, or lateral suture, refers to a repair that is performed alongside the knee joint. After the knee joint has been inspected and damaged tissue cleaned up, a strong suture is placed on the outside of the joint that runs in the same direction as the original CCL. This suture provides stability in a very similar way to the CCL before it was torn. Although this method of repair can be performed on any dog, it tends to be best for dogs under 20 pounds. A period of restricted activity is required after this surgery.
To schedule a consultation for cranial cruciate ligament repair with one of our veterinarians, call us at 727-577-6500.