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TPLO Surgery stifle illustration

When to ask your veterinarian about TPLO surgery

If you look at how your dog plays and things they do every day, such as quick acceleration and deceleration when running, jumping on and off furniture, high jumps and twists to catch balls, and even racing up and down stairs, it’s not surprising that injuries to the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) are so common.

In your dog’s stifle (knee) joint, the cruciate ligaments are important for stabilization. There are 2 cruciate ligaments in the knee called the cranial and caudal cruciate ligaments. These same structures are present in the human knee, but they are called Anterior and Posterior cruciate ligaments. Unlike in people, who often tear their ACL suddenly, the CCL typically ruptures in dogs after long-term degeneration.

A CCL rupture is the leading cause of hind limb lameness in dogs.

When to talk to your veterinarian about a possible CCL injury

Because the CCL will often weaken over time, you might not be able to point to one specific incident that injured your dog’s stifle joint. The most common clinical sign of a CCL rupture or tear is lameness. The lameness might vary from mild and intermittent to severe enough that your dog is unwilling to put weight on the leg. You might also notice a clicking or popping sound as your dog walks, indicating damage to the medial meniscus.

Certain breeds are more likely to experience CCL ruptures, including Labradors, Rottweilers, Boxers, Newfoundlands, and other large breed dogs. Because of the genetic risks, there is a 50-60% chance that a dog with a ruptured CCL in one limb will rupture the CCL in their other hind limb. Obesity can also increase the risk of a ruptured CCL in dogs.

If you notice hind limb lameness in your dog, talk to your veterinarian about a possible CCL rupture. They will diagnose CCL by palpating the stifle and possibly ordering radiographs (X-rays) to confirm if there is osteoarthritis and swelling in the joint. Most dogs with a ruptured CCL will have instability in the knee known as cranial drawer movement.

Considering TPLO surgery

In researching CCL injuries in dogs, you might have come across information on TPLO surgery, or a Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy.

TPLO is one of the most studied surgical procedures for dogs, and it has been performed for more than 25 years. Surgically stabilizing the knee is often recommended for ruptured CCLs, as it can help return the limb to near-normal function. Studies have shown that TPLO can provide dogs with faster recovery, better functional outcomes, and slow the development of osteoarthritis in the joint as compared to non-surgical management. You can learn more about the TPLO procedure and prognosis here.

If you have a medium to large breed dog, or your dog is a canine athlete, you might want to ask your veterinarian if TPLO surgery is right for your dog. ASOC was the first practice to perform TPLO surgery in the greater Seattle area, and you can learn more about why clients and other veterinarians recommend ASOC for TPLO surgeries here.


Posted June 11, 2021 by Animal Surgical in Surgery with No Comments

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