Rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament in dogs is one of the most common orthopedic injuries we as veterinarians deal with. It follows then that surgical repair of these injuries is one of the most common orthopedic surgeries.
Here at Veterinary Medical Associates, we have surgically repaired literally hundreds of cranial cruciate ruptures with a technique that allows a swift return to function for our patients. With this technique, many of our patients are walking on the surgical leg at two weeks post surgery and return to normal function in as little as four weeks, requiring controlled exercise and not severe exercise restriction in recovery. It is primarily for these two reasons that we use this technique for our patients. This procedure in our hands has also been proven to show minimal post surgical complications.
The technique used at V.M.A. is an extra-capsular (outside the joint capsule) repair that involves the implanting of a piece of synthetic material across the stifle (knee) joint to mimic the function of the cranial cruciate ligament. The implant is placed after the stifle is cleared of the ruptured cranial cruciate ligament and any of the meniscal (cartilage) tissue that also might have been torn in the injury.
There is another technique for repair of a ruptured cranial cruciate ligament that has become very popular, especially among veterinary surgeons, called a tibial plateau osteotomy, or TPLO. This is a complex procedure that involves cutting the tibia (shin or lower leg bone) in half and reorienting it relative to the femur (upper leg bone). The tibia is then plated in place using a bone plate and screws. As one might suspect, this technique can have a higher degree of post surgical complications especially when compared with the extra- capsular repair. That coupled with the high degree of exercise restriction and a prolonged time to return of function make this technique less desirable for most of our dogs with ruptured cranial cruciate ligaments.
Speed of return to function needs to be an important consideration when deciding how you want your dog's cranial cruciate rupture to be repaired. Keep in mind the life span of a dog is much shorter than in humans and four months of their lives spent in recovery, as can be the case with a TPLO surgery, is significant.
Another important consideration for many clients faced with having their companion undergo surgery for repair of a cranial cruciate rupture is cost. The TPLO procedure can cost over twice as much as the extra-capsular repair we use here at V.M.A. This can sometimes mean the difference in a client being able to afford to repair their dog's stifle or not.
Please feel free to contact us here at V.M.A. if your dog is faced with injury to his or her cranial cruciate ligament. We are more than happy to discuss all the available options in repair, along with the pros and cons associated with each.
Dr. Jeff Kahler
Hi Jeff, I think you can see by the photo above of "Bertha" that she is back to doing what she does best. If you recall, you repaired the ACL on both back legs last year after she injured them during the 4th of July and a freak thunderstorm last November. She shows no signs of favoring either leg while running or retrieving. I wanted you to know that I truly appreciate what your were able to do for her and your staff for its support. I didn’t think it was possible but you were always confident and encouraging about her recovery. Thank you so very much and have a Merry Christmas!"
Boston is our 13 year old puppy! In October of 2014, he tore his cranial cruciate ligament in his right knee. We made an educated decision to have Dr. Kahler perform surgery on Boston and the results were miraculous! Boston was up and moving on a leash shortly after surgery and was back to his old self in no time. Other procedures would have severely tampered with his quality of life for up to a year which didn't seem like fun for our dog! Dr. Kahler gave our dog back his mobility and happy and active life style in a few months and he is still running around at 13! We will forever be grateful to Dr. Kahler and his staff at Veterinary Medical Associates!