Either partial or complete rupture of the cruciate ligament within the knee is a relatively common condition in dogs. Rupture can occur from a traumatic incident such as being hit by a car, or more commonly caused by degeneration and eventual breaking of the ligament that occurs with time.
A knee without a cruciate ligament is unstable and painful as the tibia is permitted to move forward and out of alignment with the femur. This condition eventually leads to severe, even crippling, arthritis of the knee joint.
There are many options available when faced with repairing the cruciate ligament in your furry friend. Regardless of surgery chosen, it is always essential to open the knee joint to examine and trim off any tears in the meniscus. At this time any bone fragments or floating cruciate ligament will also be removed.
For small dogs only, repair of the cruciate ligament via a prosthetic suture placed on the outside of the joint is one surgical option as it assists in simulating the same general function of the ruptured cruciate ligament.
For any dog and especially dogs larger than 10kg, a more weight appropriate method and preferred surgical technique is an orthopedic surgery called Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO). With TPLO surgery, the angle of the tibia in relation to the femur is manipulated in order to take the stress of the ruptured cruciate ligament. In this way, the natural weight-bearing of the dog is what actually stabilizes the knee joint.
Keyhole, or arthroscopic orthopedic surgery now available in Albury, is a new technique open for use in these patients. Through a minimally invasive surgery, the knee joint can be fully assessed and plan for future management made with insignificant recovery time.
As with all orthopedic surgeries, arthritis will affect these joints earlier in the patient’s life. Together with your vet however, an osteoarthritis management plan can be established.
Caring for your pet, particularly in a surgical way can be very expensive, however remember, it never pays to compromise for the correct veterinary care as the consequences of not doing so can be extremely costly both financially and emotionally.
Written by Dr Renee Pigdon