Treating Pet Cruciate Ligament Ruptures

Treating Pet Cruciate Ligament Ruptures at PetCare Veterinary Hospital

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

Treatment Options

  • 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.

Post-Operative Recovery

  • Most patients will spend 12 nights in the hospital, followed by additional recovery provided in the home environment.
  • Recovery is gradual, typically requiring 46 weeks of reduced activity followed by 46 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) 579-3900.