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ACL Injury in Dogs
Cruciate ligamant tears in pet’s knees are quite common. Pet’s stand with their knees slightly bent, so there is more constant strain on the cruciate ligament then in human knees. Tearing this ligament causes instability in the knee joint that allows an abnormal motion leading to debilitating arthritis over time. This is called a cranial drawer motion, as it mimics opening a drawer. Here at Helping Hands, we fix the torn ACL in dogs by simply replacing the ligament with a new one. This is called the lateral suture technique. It is also known as the tightrope or extracapsular repair.
Dog ACL Surgery Options – Lateral Suture, TPLO & TTA
Currently, there are three different procedures to repair an ACL tear. The lateral suture technique, the TPLO or the TTA. Anytime there are three different ways to do anything, it is because not one of them is the best or the best way would be the only way. The good news is, they all work and have good success rates as long as you follow proper post op care.
We only offer the lateral suture technique at Helping Hands. Until the last decade or so, it was the only way to repair an ACL tear in dogs. It can be performed on all sizes and ages of dogs. It is performed by replacing the torn ligament with a false ligament on the outside of the joint. The TPLO and the TTA were developed somewhat recently as a stronger repair because, quite simply, if dogs can tear the ligament they were born with, then there is a risk of tearing the new one we put in. The TPLO and TTA are performed with steel plates that are stronger than a false ligament. However, steel plates are very expensive and take more time to implant, thus part of the reason for the huge difference in price. So, with the lateral suture technique, you have to be willing to assume a slightly higher risk that your pet could re-injure themselves. The implant may tear if they move in a way that caused the original one to tear, thus needing a second surgery. The larger the dog, the more weight is being put on the cranial cruciate ligament. The younger the dog, the more active it is likely to be. So if you have that large, super active pup that will not slow down, or you simply want to reduce the risk of them re injuring themselves and tearing the false implant, then the TPLO or TTA may be the way to go. If you have a large, active dog and cannot afford the TPLO or TTA, the lateral suture will still work very well. We do it everyday. You simply have to assume a slightly higher risk and work a little harder at keeping your pet calm and quiet.
Recover from ACL Surgery for Dogs
The surgery itself is the easy part, the challenging part will fall on you to keep your dog somewhat quiet and still for 6 – 8 weeks post- op. The first 2 weeks require crate rest. A crate is the only way to ensure no jarring, jumping or pushing off motions from occurring. The post op care is the same no matter which procedure you choose. I get the easy part of the job, the surgery, and you get the hard part of the job, recovery. If, you choose to come to Helping Hands, your dog will leave our hospital with a knee, good as new. It is you and your pet’s responsibility to keep it that way. We perform the lateral suture technique on a regular basis with great success on all sizes and ages of pets. We know having choices is good but can also make the decision for what is best challenging.