Your dog's cranial cruciate ligament acts much the same as a human's ACL and helps your pup's knee to function correctly. If your dog has an injured cruciate ligament your vet may recommend TPLO surgery to help restore your pet's normal mobility.
What is the cranial cruciate ligament and what does it do?
In dogs, the cranial cruciate ligament is a strip of tissue connecting the tibia (shin bone) to the femur (thigh bone). In humans this ligament is known as the anterior cruciate ligament or ACL. If your pup's cruciate ligament becomes injured or torn, your dog's knee will become unstable, causing pain and reducing your dogs ability to run and walk normally.
What is Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) Surgery?
If your canine companion is suffering from a torn cranial cruciate ligament, your vet may recommend a type of surgery called TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy) to help restore your pup's normal mobility.
Unlike Extracapsular Lateral Suture Stabilization (ELSS) which uses a suture to help tighten and support the knee while the cruciate ligament heals, TPLO restores mobility to your dog's knee without relying on the damaged ligament for stability.
How does a torn cruciate ligament cause knee pain?
If your dog has a torn cruciate ligament, pain arises from the knee's instability and a motion called 'tibial thrust'.
Tibial thrust is a sliding movement caused by the transmission of weight up the dog's shin bone (tibia) and across the knee, causing the shinbone to “thrust” forward in relation to the dog's thigh bone. This forward thrust movement occurs because the top of your dog's tibia is sloped, and your pet's injured cruciate isn't able to prevent the unwanted movement from occurring.
What is the TPLO process?
TPLO surgery eliminates the need for the cranial cruciate ligament by reconfiguring your dog's knee, rather than supplementing the ligament with the use of a suture through an Extracapsular Repair.
TPLO surgery involves making a curved cut in the tibia from the front to the back, then rotating the tibial plateau (top section) backward until the angle between the tibia and femur is about level. Once the tibial plateau is in the desired position a metal plate is attached to help stabilize the two sections as they heal in their new configuration.
How long will it take for my dog to recover from TPLO surgery?
Many dogs will be able to walk on the leg as soon as 24 hours after surgery, and most will be bearing moderate amounts of weight on the leg within 2 weeks. Following your vet's post-operative instructions will help your dog to avoid re-injuring the leg while it's still healing. Your dog should not be permitted to run or jump after TPLO surgery until the knee has had time to heal.
Recovering from knee surgery is a long process for dogs, regardless of which surgery you choose. That said, recovery from TPLO is considered to be relatively quick. It will take about 12-16 weeks for your dog to make a full recovery from TPLO surgery. You can expect your dog to return to full physical activity approximately 6 months after TPLO surgery.
Potential Complications & What to Do
Though there are typically no complications involved with recovery from TPLO surgery, you’ll want to contact your veterinarian if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Signs of infection or inflammation at incision site
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Reluctance to put any weight on recovering leg
- Sensitivity to pain medications
- Loss of appetite
- Missing staples or stitches
If your dog displays any of these signs, your vet will be able to examine your pup for signs of complications, and treat any issues before they become more severe.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.
To learn more about TPLO for dogs, contact our Tucson vets today to book an appointment for your pet. At Veterinary Specialty Center of Tucson, our veterinary surgeon performs advanced surgery while putting your pet’s safety and comfort at the forefront.
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