tplo surgery cranial cruciate ligamentMost of us have heard of a torn ACL, the ligament that helps connect the human thigh bone to the shin bone. Dogs have a similar ligament called the cranial cruciate ligament, or the CCL. This ligament and its counterpart, create a cross formation within in a dog’s knee which is why it is named the “cruciate” ligament. Unfortunately, the CCL is prone to tearing. A CCL tear is most commonly caused by degeneration due to aging or weight. As larger dogs age, they are especially prone to CCL tears. Although these tears are most commonly due to degenerative changes over months or years, these patients most commonly present with a sudden lameness after running through the back yard or pivoting quickly chasing a tennis ball.

Your dog may be developing a tear if you notice intermittent lameness or limping, stiffness, or favoring one leg. The knee may be swollen, and be painful or tender. Difficulty in getting up and lying down are also symptoms to look for. A dog may yelp if there is a sudden tear during exercise.

When the cranial cruciate tears, it causes the tibia (shin bone) to slide in front of the femur, resulting in a lot of pain and an abnormal gait. When a CCL tears, it’s necessary to stabilize the knee joint, and that means usually means surgery. At Town N Country, Dr. Bolynn has special training in surgically stabilizing the knee. The surgery is called a tibial plateau leveling osteotomy, or TPLO for short.

Cruciate surgery. A TPLO actually changes the way the tibia and the femur meet. We make a cut in the top of the tibia, rotate it several degrees, and then attach a bone plate to allow it to heal. This actually realigns and stabilizes the knee.

Once the TPLO surgery is over, dogs usually recover quickly. Around 10 weeks, most dogs walk without a limp, and within six months, they can resume all physical activity. We monitor recovery with exams and radiographs.

TPLO is one of the special services that we at Town N Country are able to provide. Like our advanced radiograph techniques, PennHipp screening, and chemotherapy, TPLO is not available everywhere. It’s just one of the many ways that we are able to offer the very best care for your pets.