Like people, dogs have two cruciate ligaments to help provide support for the knee. Their presence keeps the femur and tibia from sliding around and destabilizing the joint. Repairing torn cruciates is a fairly most common surgery at our animal hospital. Certain breeds (Labradors and Rottweilers) show up with this injury more frequently than other pets.
Dogs can rupture these ligaments with sudden twisting movements while running or even from slipping on the floor.
In most cases, diagnosing a cruciate tear simply requires a veterinarian’s examination. Palpation of the knee joint is the key to the diagnosis although it is also a good idea to take x-rays of both knees to look for any other problems.
The next step is surgery. For small dogs weighing 20 pounds or less, we usually recommend a procedure called a “Lateral Suture” or “Extracapsular Repair”. This surgery allows these small patients to regain normal use of their leg in 8-14 weeks with minimal risk of complications.
For larger dogs, we recommend a procedure called a Tibial Tuberosity Advancement or “TTA”. During this surgery, a cut is made into the front part of the tibia (shin bone) just below the knee and this bone is advanced forward to help stabilize the knee. A titanium metal plate and spacer (cage) is screw into place to maintain the bone in this new position.
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After surgery, most dogs feel much better. In fact, it’s a challenge for owners to keep their pets rested during the recovery. This 8-10 week recovery period is crucial. Too much activity can delay healing at the site or even cause enough damage that a second surgery might be needed! Dogs must be kept in a crate or small room when they can’t be supervised, go outside ONLY on a leash and only for bathroom breaks until the surgeon says short walks are ok. Running, jumping and stairs should be avoided.
If you have any questions regarding knee surgery for your dog, please call our Peachtree City location (770-487-1338) and ask to speak with Dr. Vince or Dr. Jeff.