Knee Surgery Options for Dogs with Torn Cruciate

If your pup is suffering from a torn CCL—cranial cruciate ligament, similar to humans' ACLs—the Apple Valley vets at our animal hospital may advise your pet to undergo surgery to repair the damage and get them back up and running again. Here are 3 different surgery options for this commonly found knee injury in dogs.

Knee Injuries in Dogs

Keeping your pup's knees healthy and free of pain is key to giving your dog a healthy and active lifestyle.

While there are a wide variety of high quality dog foods and supplements your vet might recommend to help maintain the condition of your dog's joints, CCL injuries do occur and can cause your dog a great amount of pain.

The Cranial Cruciate Ligament in Dogs

Your dog's cranial cruciate ligament (CCL, ACL or cruciate) is one of two ligaments in your dog's leg that connect the shin bone to the thigh bone and allows for proper movement of the knee.

Knee pain and the injuries stemming from a torn cruciate can occur suddenly during exercise or can develop quite gradually over along period of time. If your dog has an injured cruciate and still runs, jumps and plays, then the injury will only get more severe. 

Tibial Thrust

When your dog has a torn cruciate pain arises from the knee's instability and a motion called 'tibial thrust'.

Tibial thrust is the sliding movement which is caused by your dog transmitting weight up their shin and across their knee when their cruciate is injured. This causes their shin bone tho "thrust" forward and can't be stopped without a healthy ligament to hold it in place. 

Signs & Symptoms of Knee Injuries in Dogs

If your dog is suffering from knee pain due to an injured cruciate they will not be able to run or walk normally and will likely display other symptoms such as:

  • Stiffness following exercise
  • Difficulties rising up off of the floor
  • Limping in their hind legs

Surgery Options for Treating Knee Injuries in Dogs

These kinds of injuries rarely heal themselves. If your dog is showing any signs of a torn cruciate, it's critical that you bring them to your vet for examination and diagnosis. This way, treatment can be administered before the condition becomes any worse.

If your dog has a torn cruciate your vet is likely to recommend one of three different knee surgeries to help your dog regain normal mobility.

ELSS / ECLS - Extracapsular Lateral Suture Stabilization

This surgical procedure is often used to treat smaller dogs—those who weigh less than 50 pounds—and prevents tibial thrust with a surgically placed suture. 

The suture provides stabilization for your dog's knee by pulling their joint tight and preventing the front-to-back slide, allowing their cruciate time to heal and the muscles surrounding your pup's knee time to strengthen themselves. ELSS surgery is fairly quick and uncomplicated with a good success rate in small to medium-sized dogs.

TPLO - Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy

TPLO is more complicated than ELSS surgery and aims to reduce tibial thrust without relying on the dog's cruciate. This surgery involves making a complete cut through the top of the tibia (tibial plateau), then rotating the tibial plateau in order to change its angle. Finally a metal plate is added to stabilize the cut bone as it heals. Over the course of several months, your dog's leg will gradually heal and strengthen.

TTA - Tibial Tuberosity Advancement

TTA is a similar procedure to TPLO, but can be slightly less invasive. This knee surgery involves the surgical separation of the front part of your dog';s tibia from the rest of the bone. Then,  a spacer is added between the two sections to move the front forward and up.

This allows your dog's knee to prevent tibial thrust from occurring. Your vet will attach a bone plate to your pup's tibia to keep it in place until it has time to heal. Dogs with a steep tibial plateau (angle of the top section of the tibia) are excellent candidates for TTA surgery.

Which type of knee surgery is right for my dog?

Following a thorough examination of your dog's knee movement and geometry, your vet will consider your dog's age, weight, size and lifestyle, then recommend the treatment that's best for your dog.

How long will it take for my dog to recover from ACL surgery?

Healing from a knee surgery is a long process. While many dogs are able to walk as soon as 24 hours after surgery, a full recovery and a return to normal activities will take 12 - 16 weeks or more. Following your vet's post-operative instructions will help your dog to return to normal activities as soon as safely possible, while reducing the risk of re-injury.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

In order to learn more about your options when it comes to knee surgery for your dog, contact Bear Valley Animal Hospital's expert team of veterinarians to book an appointment today.