Cranial Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Repair

Cranial Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Repair

It’s extremely common for dogs—especially older and overweight dogs—to rupture their cranial cruciate ligaments. This ligament is found in the knee and its human equivalent is the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL. When a dog ruptures this ligament, their knee joint becomes unstable and they will limp on the affected limb. Because ACL tears cause such significant mobility issues for pets, it’s important to get these injuries treated as quickly as possible.

At Timpanogos Animal Hospital, our surgeons perform orthopedic surgeries like cranial cruciate ligament repairs. We recommend a procedure called a tibial plateau leveling osteotomy or TPLO for dogs weighing more than twenty pounds. For smaller dogs and cats, we treat the torn ACL using a technique called extracapsular repair or lateral suture.

Our surgeons have experience in both procedures and will consult with you about the preferred method for your pet. The best surgical option for your dog will generally depend on the size and age of your dog.

Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO)

A torn ACL results in painful instability of the knee joint. The Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) method of treating a torn ACL alters the geometry of the knee joint to make the joint stable.  It involves making a cut in the tibia or shin bone and plating the bone in place. Once the bone is healed, the repair is permanent. Most dogs return to weight-bearing on the affected leg soon after surgery, but their activity needs to be partially restricted for six to eight weeks while the bone heals in place. It is a highly effective procedure and is the preferred procedure for most dogs weighing over twenty pounds.

Extracapsular (Lateral Suture) Repair

Extracapsular, or lateral suture, refers to a repair that is performed alongside the knee joint.  After the knee joint has been inspected and damaged tissue cleaned up, a strong suture is placed on the outside of the joint that runs in the same direction as the original ACL. This suture provides stability in a very similar way to the ACL before it was torn. Although this method of repair can be performed on any dog, it tends to be best for dogs under 20 pounds. A period of restricted activity is required after this surgery.

To schedule a consultation for cranial cruciate ligament repair with one of our veterinarians, call us at (801) 406-9443.