Treating Pet Cruciate Ligament Ruptures
Definition and Cause(s)
- Rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament rupture (ACL tear) is the most common orthopedic problem in dogs and is also very common in cats.
- Rupture of the ligament may be caused by trauma or chronic progressive ligament degeneration (cruciate disease).
- Regardless of the cause, cruciate ligament failure creates instability in the knee resulting in pain, disability, and often concurrent meniscal injury.
- The diagnosis of cruciate ligament instability can be determined with an orthopedic exam and X-rays
- Anterior cruciate ligament instability may be treated with conservative management but is more commonly addressed with surgical intervention.
- Many surgical procedures are successful at restoring function to the knee either by utilizing geometry alteration to shift weight bearing forces to other structures or by reconstructing the joint using a prosthetic implant to replace the function of the cruciate ligament.
- Commonly performed geometry altering procedures include:
- Tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO)
- Tibial tuberosity advancement (TTA)
- Commonly performed reconstructive procedures include:
- Extracapsular suture techniques (MRIT)
- Tight rope
- Fibular head advancement
- No single procedure is superior to another; during your consultation, the surgeon will determine which surgical options are best suited for your pet.
- Most patients will spend 1–2 nights in the hospital, followed by additional recovery provided in the home environment.
- Recovery is gradual, typically requiring 4–6 weeks of reduced activity followed by 4–6 weeks of leash walks.
- With good aftercare, complications are infrequent.
- Functional restoration is typically good to excellent, resulting in the ability to run, jump, and play in good comfort.
If you have questions about the diagnosis or treatment of a cruciate problem in your pet, we recommend that you contact us to schedule a consultation with one of our board-certified surgeons by calling 707-579-5900.