One of the most common reasons for a dog to undergo surgery is lameness or limping in a rear leg. And, while there are often other causes or conditions to rule out, a torn cranial cruciate ligament is often the root of the problem. Here, our Oakland vets explain how TPLO surgery can help.
The Anatomy of a Dog’s Knee
The function of the crucial cruciate ligament in your pup's legs is to prevent their tibia from shifting forward and allowing your dog a full range of motion. If this ligament tears or ruptures, their knee will lose its stability. This will cause pain, inflammation, further injury and arthritis in your pup if not promptly treated.
Symptoms of a Ruptured Cranial Cruciate Ligament
Symptoms of a ruptured CCL include:
- Vocalizing in pain
- Difficulty rising
- Decreased activity level
- Lameness/limping on the affected leg
- When the dog sits, they may hold the affected leg out to one side.
- Muscle atrophy (muscle wasting) in the affected leg
Causes of a Cranial Cruciate Tear
A tear in your dog's cruciate ligament can be caused by several different kinds of much smaller teras which accumulate over time. In dogs, these micro-tears or one large acute injury are the common causes of CCL injury. Tears can either be complete or partial, although partial tears will develop into full tears if left alone. Injuries can occur from activity or your pup being overweight. Your dog may also be more susceptible to a CCL tear depending on their age, needs and disposition. These injuries are much more common in large dogs, although smaller dogs can experience these tears as well.
Treatment for CCL Rupture with TPLO Surgery
At East Bay Veterinary Clinic, we use tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (otherwise known as TPLO) to treat cruciate ligament tears. Using TPLO we are able;e to eliminate many long-term complications and see significant improvement in anywhere form 80-90%of our patients. While arthritis still has the potential to develop in patients who undergo this surgery, it is far less common and slower to develop than in patients who don't receive the surgery.
Rather than repairing the torn ligament itself, the TPLO changes the biomechanics of the knee so that it functions without the CrCL and has more stability. The surgery itself involves making a circular cut at the top of the tibia and rotating the tibial plateau to change its angle. These changes are secured with a stainless-steel plate and screws while the bones heal. After the bones have successfully healed, the plate and screws are no longer needed but are not removed unless a rare complication occurs.
What to Expect if Your Pet Has a TPLO
Owners who elect for their pet to have a TPLO performed can expect the following:
- An initial consultation with our vets to evaluate their dog's torn CrCL and confirm that surgery is the best course of action.
- Owners will be requested to withhold food after midnight the night before the procedure. They will be asked to drop their pet off with our surgery department on the morning of the surgery.
- Our vets will conduct a full physical exam and any necessary lab work to make sure your pet isn't at risk for complications from undergoing anesthesia.
- A courtesy call will be given to the owner before and after surgery to notify the start of the surgery and discuss how the pet is doing afterward.
- Patients will be provided with twenty-four-hour care by our vets and staff as well as kept comfortable and have their pain managed.
- Patients will stay overnight and be discharged the following day, barring any unforeseen complications.
- Our veterinary staff will go over the procedure, and any at-home care you will need to provide, after discharging your pet to you. Your pup will need to follow a strict schedule of confined rest for the next six weeks will some time on carpeted surfaces for two weeks after that. Over time, you will gradually increase the amount of time your pet is on their feet. All throughout this, you will have to stop your dog from running, jumping or doing any unattended activity until your vet has confirmed at their leg is healed from the surgery.